November 1, 2014

Guest Column: CVU summer camp connects youth to community leaders

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By Duncan Wardwell

The Champlain Valley Union High School Summer Camp continues to provide a learning community for all incoming high school students. The camp encourages new CVU citizens to create social and learning networks. The Camp (which began in 2002) promotes students meeting new people, making friends, exploring possibilities and challenging themselves. Extra incentives exist this year as CVU staff, Connecting Youth (CY) members and camp counselors implement activities to inspire leaders.

A healthy transition to high school relies on a good partnership with Access CVU and CY. Access CVU invites all incoming ninth graders to enroll in one or two sessions. All campers choose three interest area activities from a menu of twelve different academic, artistic, athletic and technical offerings. Current and former CVU students serve as counselors to create activities for campers. Families are able to enroll at any time and may request scholarship support.

“We remove obstacles to join our learning community. We organize transportation and tuition options when needed,” said Eddie Krasnow, Access CVU director. CY annually supports scholarship initiatives and a counselor to mentor camp activities.

Campers participate in an environment that mentors new ninth graders with experienced students and staff. Christine Lloyd-Newberry, CY program director, said that, “every CY counselor contributes skills that endorse our culture of healthy decision-making.”

The CY counselors are able to utilize experiences from CY Improv and CY Lead to help students develop good problem-solving skills. Camp counselors establish effective relationships between new CVU students and current leaders. Allison Giroux and Shannon Ryan are experienced counselors, graduating with accolades in entrepreneurial and stewardship service.

“We help campers bond together and raise awareness about CVU,” Allison said. Shannon added that, “CVU presents a ton of opportunities, so take them! Join some clubs, teams, make connections and help yourself direct your own education.”

The social interactions between counselors, campers and staff integrate a strong learning community. André LaChance, a CVU English teacher for 23 years, challenges campers to know their teachers.

“We often see relationships that begin at the camp continue through at least the freshman year. I often help advisors and teachers plan for success,” he said. “I mentor counselors as they become educational leaders, and the counselors mentor campers as they mature as learners.”

Lloyd-Newbury elaborated that, “the relationships grow out of a first impression. The peer-to-peer education propagates between staff, parents and students.”

Incoming ninth graders are able to taste success before the first day of school officially begins.

“There are many ways to contribute to our learning community,” said Krasnow. “We expect students to challenge themselves and prepare ways to interact with the current CVU culture.”

It is important to provide good social interactions. Allison and Shannon both agree that encouraging students to contribute is important.

Shannon suggested that, “by becoming involved in a CVU group you can learn from students with recent experience.” Allison helps students participate when she says “listen to your counselors, advisors, teachers, parents and then identify a way to give back to CVU.”

These partnerships help nurture an environment where all students are encouraged to make a positive first impression.

New students discover success in various ways at CVU during the summer. A camper may choose to participate in interest areas like outdoor recreation, graphic design and engineering solutions. Another camper may be involved with theater, hip-hop fitness and poetry slams. All campers will be able to develop a new social network and establish learning accountability and healthy decisions. Check out the CVU Summer Camp website at www.cvuhs.org, or call Access CVU at 482-7194. Session A begins July 9 and Session B on July 23. Spaces are always available for incoming ninth graders in both sessions and all interest areas!

Duncan Wardwell is the Access CVU co-director, Summer Camp director and CY executive board member and lead staff adviser.

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