15 July 2008

camp day!

If you are interested in supporting the Fresh Air Fund, you can make a donation through my personal page for the Half Marathon.

Today was a day I'd been looking forward to for a couple of weeks-- Camp Day!

As one of the runners who are on the Fresh Air Fund's team for the NYC Half Marathon, I was invited to go and visit the Sharpe Reservation where all of their summer camp programs are held. They took us up in buses, and after only and hour and a half on the road heading upstate, we were in a beautiful land of green hills, lakes, and forest, with views of the Catskills.

As we hopped off the bus, we were warmly greeted at Camp A.B.C. by a group of young girl campers singing and clapping and smiling. This was exciting already! We met up with the camp coordinators, and went on a tour of the camps.

Our first stop was the Farm. This was definitely my favorite part! They have a small learning farm where the kids meet resident and loaned pigs, goats, cows, turkeys, chickens, and rabbits, do chores to care for the animals, and also are taught how these animals are used (for meat, wool, milk, etc.). Behind the Farm, there's an all-organic garden that the kids harvest and taste from, learning how things grow, where food comes from, and practicing traditional recipes-- today they were making Iroquois corn cakes. The camps also source the majority of their fresh produce and dairy from local farms within 50 miles.

One of the things I was really excited about was how the entire reservation is almost entirely zero-waste-- composting and recycling nearly everything they use. This is integrated into meal times where each table of campers cooperatively and willingly separates their uneaten food and scraps into 'compost' and 'trash' (and they know the difference) and as a group, clear and wipe down the table.

After our tour of the highlights of the 2,300 acre property, we went back to Camp A.B.C.-- one of the largest camps on the reservation-- and were sprinkled throughout the dining hall, sitting at tables with the campers. Sitting down and chatting with the girls at my table about their upcoming talent show, how good of swimmers they were, where they're from, and singing songs with them as we ate our dessert, was the highlight of my day! (I was bummed as I left realizing I didn't get any photos of the campers! Was too busy having fun to remember to take any!)

It was great to see these kids learning and doing things they might never be able to do at home or school, and with nothing but green surrounding the camps, and big fields to run and play in, I wish I could spend the summer at camp too! When you spend too much time, or your whole young life, as many of these kids have, 'trapped' in the city, you don't realize how much good a little fresh air can do for you.

Touring the camps, it was exciting to see how the money I've been helping to raise (thank you for your support!) for this organization is being put to excellent use. The Reservation of five camps hosts over 4,000 low-income NYC kids from 9-15 for 2 or more weeks every summer, and providing summer jobs for many of the 'graduated' campers 16 or older. I felt really honored to spend a day at camp, sing songs with the kids, and see that the fundraising and running 13.1 miles is more than worth it.

If you are interested in supporting the Fresh Air Fund, you can make a donation through my personal page for the Half Marathon, or contact them directly about contributions, volunteering, and other means of support.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it makes me feel summery and happy just reading your blog :) chef aja you are such an inspiration.

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