+ Camp Spring Creek — Academic and Recreational

by Katey Schultz, from the AOGPE Newsletter 

[Tutoring in Columbus OH: see below]

Camp Spring Creek, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is an academic and recreational camp supporting children with dyslexia ages 7 to 15. It is only one of three AOGPE accredited residential camps in the United States and also offers day-camp opportunities. “So many people with dyslexia are misunderstood,” says Cofounder/Director Susie van der Vorst. “But just look at the wonderful role models we have! Many succeed in spite of their education. Imagine how they’d be if they had been instructed in the ways that they learn best.”

It is precisely that sentiment that led Susie and her husband and Co-Founder Steve van der Vorst to create Camp Spring Creek in 2003. They have been successfully helping and inspiring children ever since, and in more recent years have expanded programming to include yearround AOGPE certification training opportunities. Many of their trainings are grant-funded and offered to teachers at no cost to the school districts or teachers, enabling the OG Approach to find its way into public school classrooms with consistency, quality, and professional observation by Susie, an AOGPE Fellow. “We chose to become AOGPE accredited because we want to be recognized as having the highest standards,” says Susie. In Yancey and Mitchell County, North Carolina – Camp Spring Creek’s home base – more than 30 teachers and teaching assistants have received the Classroom Educator training through the camp’s outreach services, many educators continuing onto Associate Level certification or further.

A typical day at Camp Spring Creek begins with breakfast, followed by a reading hour. Then, campers participate in a five period day including swimming, one-on-one OG tutoring, art, woodshop, and keyboarding/multimedia. The day concludes with an outdoor program, where campers select the activity (paintball, archery, hiking, rock climbing, or lifeguarding), study hall, recess, and then dinner. After clean up, there is an all-camp recreational activity (e.g., capture the flag, campfire). Afterwards campers retreat to their cabins where staff read aloud to them before lights go out. “Our approach is designed to target a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses to help them excel,” says Susie. “We also recognize the value of keeping kids active throughout the day. Our kids can’t learn as well if they’re stuck behind a desk. Learning needs to be hands-on so that they can get multiple senses involved.” The minimum stay at camp is four weeks (boarding or day), though many children stay for 6-8 weeks.

Campers, who come from all over the world, see several grade levels of improvement over the course of just one summer. After departure, a written narrative report is reviewed with the parents by phone. The campers’ families often become lifelong supporters of the camp and send their children back year after year. “We consider all of our campers as part of our extended family,” says Susie. “We’re so fortunate to be entrusted by their families, and we come to love their children as our own. Saying goodbye every summer is always the hardest part for me, but we write letters and connect on the Camp Spring Creek Facebook page. More than anything, I love letting the kids go, knowing that they’ve gained quantifiable skills alongside immeasurable confidence. Now they view their dyslexia as an ability, not a disability.”

For more information on Camp Spring Creek, please visit their website and blog. Website: http://www.campspringcreek.org Blog: http://campspringcreek.wordpress.com C

To learn about the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE): http://www.ortonacademy.org

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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