March 25, 2019

CVU summer camp eases transition to high school

Camp counselors (from left) Peter Hibbler and Arianna Davis speak to incoming freshman Flynn Freenan, Justin Olson and Will Ravell about CVU. (Observer photo by Rachel Gill)

Camp counselors (from left) Peter Hibbler and Arianna Davis speak to incoming freshman Flynn Freenan, Justin Olson and Will Ravell about CVU. (Observer photo by Rachel Gill)

July 18th 2013

By Rachel Gill

Observer correspondent

The first day of high school can mean fears of getting lost in the halls, not fitting in or even wearing the wrong outfit. Luckily for Champlain Valley Union High School’s incoming freshmen, there’s CVU summer camp. Past and present CVU students show new students the ropes of high school to nix first day jitters and build excitement for all that CVU has to offer.

This summer marks the camp’s 15th year. The first of two sessions started July 8; the second starts July 22. The camp provides a positive transition into high school through having incoming freshman meet new friends and interact with resources at CVU.

Sharron Ryan, who graduated CVU in 2012, has been a camp counselor for four years and attended camp as a freshman.

“I was way more nervous for my first day of camp than I was for my first day of high school,” Ryan said. “Camp definitely made the difference for me.”

The camp gave Ryan a sense of direction.

“You are coming from your tiny little middle school where you had been for years and come up here and it’s gigantic,” Ryan said.  “But you come to camp and realize you are not going to get lost on your first day and you’re really going to be okay.”

Fellow 2012 graduate Andy Bonneau, now a camp counselor, said he missed his chance to be a camper.

“I never went to camp as a freshman, I really wish I had,” Bonneau said. “I was really nervous about coming to school and making friends and I think that coming here you get to meet those people and you will end up being the one helping others find their way around school.”

Duncan Wardwell, the camp’s coordinator since its inception, said camp is all about having a little fun.

“Camp is designed to give students the opportunity to get a feel for school culture, for being an active learner and most importantly to get a feel for the first day of school beyond just what it’s like to take a test,” Wardwell said.

The camp offers 12 different interest areas or workshops for campers that simulate a CVU classroom experience, ranging from hip-hop dance to digital photography.

Jamie Pashby of Williston chose digital projects, a digital photography interest area.

“So far it’s been really good, I have met a lot of new people and I like the interest areas a lot,” Pashby said as she fiddled with a picture on her computer screen of a “caution wet floor” sign.

Dillon Beliveau, of St. George, a camp counselor for three years, heads up the digital projects and web site design interest areas.

“When I first came to CVU I was really nervous about getting around the building and going to camp as a freshman really helped with my transition,” Beliveau said. “This is a really important thing to do and you end up getting ahead of other kids who didn’t go to camp.”

For campers who just can’t be pulled in from the summer weather, there’s also an outdoor games interest area.

“Having the campers outside really helps alleviate the stress of first coming here and by having the incoming freshmen play games it helps them relax and feel more connected,” said Arianna Davis, counselor for outdoor games.

No matter which interest area campers choose, Wardwell said the goal is to get them looking at CVU as an opportunity.

“There are so many ways to connect to CVU and we help encourage them to find a way to do that, either through a peer, a teacher or club,” Wardwell said. “We also want to remind the community that the school doesn’t shut down at 3 p.m. We want the public to interact with the school, because it’s a community resource.”

For more information about summer camp, call 482-7194, email or visit

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