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Volunteers Keep Youth Residents Active and Engaged Over Summer Break

EuniceBy: Eunice Kwarteng, Stony Brook resident and Fairfax County, Virginia Youth Volunteer of the Year

For the past three summers, I have served as the Summer Camp Director at Stony Brook. From registering youth residents to finding and developing activities for the camp as well as writing lesson plans, the experience has been incredible. This summer, our camps were a huge success!

Unlike in past years, we split camp up into three distinct sessions: a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) session, a special Stony Brook Summer Olympics session, and a session of our normal summer camp with various activities.

Planning for camp each year is a challenge – we must find and develop activities that the kids will enjoy, making sure they are fun and engaging. At the same time, we have a limited amount of time to develop the curriculum, and so we have to be wise in the approach we take. We often recycle activities, but add in new twists for returning youth. Recruiting and training volunteers can also be a challenge, but the teens of Stony Brook are always willing to step up to the challenge and lend a helping hand.

This summer, we had more than 20 youth, both resident and non-resident, attend camp. While this number is lower than in the past, it is because Stony Brook’s CIS Manager Ryan Barton encouraged parents to enroll their youth in summer programming whether at Stony Brook or not. Many residents who did not attend camp here participated in summer school programs or Fairfax County camps. All were engaged and stayed active – mentally and physically – during the summer.

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Science experiments are always a hit! Whether a reaction of water, yeast, and peroxide (Elephant Toothpaste) or Mentos in Diet Coke, seeing science up close is thrilling to all of our campers. This year’s Summer Olympic camp was a unique opportunity with the Rio Summer Olympics also happening. Outside activities, especially competitions, are a favorite part of our camps. This year, we awarded medals to the winning teams and had an opening and closing ceremony for the teams.

Not every session is a success. The least popular session would have to be the health and wellness camp day. This year we made healthy wraps, with turkey and vegetables. Many of the kids did not enjoy it because they were required to have healthy ingredients on their wraps – and it’s very clear that the campers are not veggie fans.

As I move on to my freshman year at Virginia Tech, I am sad that my three years running summer camps is coming to a close, but there is a strong pool of talented youth volunteers who I am sure will carry on this revived summer tradition at Stony Brook. I can’t wait to see what fun and exciting camps the summer of 2017 will hold!

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(Left) CPDC Stony Brook resident, volunteer and Summer Camp Director Eunice Kwarteng accepts the honor of Fairfax County Youth Volunteer of the Year during 2016 National Volunteer Week in April. Read more about her award here.


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