The children within the bodily training class that Derrick Martin teaches at 47 the American Signal Language and English Secondary Faculty (it was as soon as Public Faculty 47) are across the similar age he was when he first left New York Metropolis to work at a summer season camp upstate.
Mr. Martin was 16 and had by no means camped open air himself earlier than the Contemporary Air Fund employed him as counselor-in-training at Camp Hayden-Marks in Fishkill in 2008. When he was between the ages of 6 and 12, he had lived with host households upstate and in Maine and Pennsylvania by the fund’s summer season programming. However lodging within the woods whereas studying to be a camp chief was a brand new type of immersion.
He shortly turned enamored of the expertise. Quickly after getting off the bus and watching the director greet campers, Mr. Martin imagined being in that position sometime. That want, and his connection to camp life, solely grew. Every season he climbed the ranks.
This summer season can be Mr. Martin’s 14th at a Contemporary Air Fund camp — and his first because the director of Camp Hayden-Marks. The information of this achievement hasn’t fairly hit him. “That is one thing that I’ve been working for, for thus lengthy,” he mentioned.
It’s a blessing for him to have the ability to say he’s reached his aim, however the even larger prize is the journey and group that got here with it. “For an extended time frame, all my buddies had been from camp,” he mentioned. Being a part of that world has enriched his life. “I’m what we name a real New Yorker. I don’t actually journey that a lot.”
Camp has been inspirational too. Mr. Martin says that whereas individuals make their New Yr’s resolutions in January, he makes them when camp begins. He sees being outdoors his pure habitat within the metropolis as an opportunity to reset. Structured days additionally encourage wholesome habits, like consuming three meals a day. Then there’s the serendipity that comes with being in wide-open fields.
“There’s instances at camp the place I sort of simply run for no cause,” he mentioned. “We’re strolling to our subsequent actions and it’s like, hey, let’s race. Little issues like that simply assist me bodily over time.”
A few of his favourite camp reminiscences contain actions that weren’t tightly deliberate however improvised, like mingling with workers members and campers within the eating corridor on wet days, instances after they play board video games and take heed to music and dance. “It’s actually a cool factor to see as a result of the rain forces every part at camp to sort of decelerate a little bit bit,” he mentioned. “On sunny days or weather-permitting days, every part is simply nonstop. Go, go, go, go, go.”
Working with youngsters at camp set Mr. Martin up for a profession as a bodily training instructor, combining his pursuits in sports activities and instructing kids. Camp Hayden-Marks had such a big effect on Mr. Martin’s life that he bought a tattoo of a tree brand representing the camp on his higher arm.
Having camp alumni like Mr. Martin return every summer season is “a part of the magic of the Contemporary Air Fund,” mentioned Wendy Flanagan, the fund’s president and interim government director. Mr. Martin understands the various changes youngsters should make after they go to sleepaway camp for the primary time, she mentioned.
Mr. Martin mentioned camp might be like a dash: Attending to the top is an accomplishment. “They’re crying as a result of they don’t wish to be there. Then they’re crying on the final day as a result of they don’t wish to go away,” he mentioned. “It’s actually a good looking factor to see.”
This summer season, campers will return to Camp Hayden-Marks in particular person for the primary time for the reason that pandemic began. The Contemporary Air Fund goals to succeed in shut to three,000 New York Metropolis kids from low-income households throughout its numerous packages. A donation of $2,500 sends a participant to camp for a two-week session, and $1,800 for one to stick with a number household. The fund hopes to lift about $12 million this yr. Ms. Flanagan mentioned that the fund is rebuilding its sleepaway packages and placing pandemic protocols in place.
Tax-deductible contributions could also be despatched to the Contemporary Air Fund, 633 Third Avenue, 14th Flooring, New York, NY 10017. Households who want to be hosts or mother and father who want to join their kids can name the Contemporary Air Fund at (800) 367-0003 or go to www.freshair.org.