Second Session 2019 has officially begun, and already it is shaping up to be a super fun and eventful week! Our wonderful Support Staff of adult volunteers arrived around lunchtime on Monday to start preparing Camp Swift for the campers’ arrival. They prepared all the activities and programs and set up the camp for the week.
After a bright and early start on Tuesday morning, the counselors finally arrived at camp! The unit heads introduced the counselors to their co-counselors and to the rest of their units. The counselors spent the rest of the day getting to know their fellow unit members and becoming familiar with the camp routine. Meanwhile, Eric Slosky, director of staff, made sure that everything was running smoothly. Kelsey Rendelman, director of special programs, organized all the preparations for Camp Swift’s unique and educational activities. And Scott Lorsch, director of fun, energized everyone with our daily dose of camp spirit.
Since 1980, Swift Youth Foundation has been providing youth with great experiences that teach them to reach their full potential, and this session of camp is no different. Wednesday morning, 142 happy and eager campers rolled into camp to the cheers of counselors and Support Staff alike! The campers quickly met their new cabin mates and counselors, and were introduced to the theme of camp: college! This year’s college theme was super exciting because everyone can follow the path to their full potential.
After a delicious lunch of Pasta Bolognese, campers shopped at Krazy Keppies, a free store fully stocked with clothes and other necessities to make sure campers have everything they need! Then, the cabins jumped straight into the rest of their day, which was packed with activities such as swimming, Ga-Ga ball, art, cooking, hiking, and scaling the rock wall. Each program not only tied-in to the college theme by emphasizing the path to reaching our potential, but also helped the cabins become close and make new friends.
At dinnertime, Youngest and Middle units lined up outside the lodge to cheer and sing camp songs, then they enjoyed a nutritious burger and taco dinner. Youngest unit competed in the Pentathlon program, and Middle unit played the Game of Life. Meanwhile, Oldest unit headed to the campfire for the Overnight, where they star-gazed and had a cook out of hot dogs and s’mores. Finally, the campers headed to bed to get some rest for another busy day tomorrow!
It's almost here, Summer 2019!
As the countdown to Camp Swift winds down to the single digit number of days that remain until camp, we are winding up our efforts to prepare for the best. summer. E.V.E.R.!
One way you can ensure you have an excellent experience at Camp Swift is to take an extra minute or two to double check your suitcase or duffel bag!
To help you prep for you week at camp, we've prepared the TOP 10 ITEMS YOU'LL PROBABLY FORGET as reported by our seasoned Support Staff. Enjoy!
Top 10 ITEMS YOU'LL pROBABLY FORGET...
It's all fun and games until your campers decide that
"Paint the Counselor" is the best way to spend that first block of Cabin Time...AM I RIGHT!? Don't get caught covered in paint and realize you forgot all of the essentials!? A mini checklist of the must haves:
9. Warm Clothes
Although we are experiencing current highs in the 110's, get ready for Prescott's nighttime lows in the 60's! Talk about chilly for most Phoenicians-BRR! Don't freeze during the overnight! Pack a comfortable pair of jeans and a great hoodie to stay warm around the campfire!
8. Appropriate Clothing
There is nobody to dress to impress at Camp Swift ;) instead think of how you are dressing to set the best example for your campers who are learning from your every move.
7. Sleeping Bag AND Pillow
As any seasoned counselor or Support Staff can tell you, your sleep is sacre saint! Make the most of your down time by remembering to bring the sleeping bag and pillow!
Each bunk has a mattress but not much else, so pack the essentials for a good night's sleep!
6. Flashlight AND/OR Headlamp
As exciting as a glow stick lit trip to the bathroom with your campers at 2am sounds... it's not really all that great! Pack a trusty flashlight and even better a headlamp for those nighttime jaunts to the john!
PRO TIP: Before packing your flashlight/headlamp, remove batteries and invert them. This will insure that you will not accidentally lose your battery power during travel! (Just remember to flip them back the right way before you head to dinner on the first night)
5. The Grilled Cheese Day Essentials
These timeless outfits happen out of careful planning and diligent execution! Don't want to get caught rifling through the last of the Keppies to find that perfect orange shirt to show your affinity for #TeamGrilledCheese?? Plan ahead and pack all that you'll need for a picture perfect Grilled Cheese Day!
4. Cabin Decorations
Get your cabin looking Pinterest perfect by deciding on how you'll decorate to welcome your campers! Half the fun of hanging out in your cabin is making it feel a little like home! Check out our College Theme Pinterest Board for some great ideas to get your brainstorming underway!
3. A wrist watch
Don't forget Camp Swift is a "phone free campus", meaning that we do not permit teen counselors or adult volunteers to use their phones until after campers have gone to sleep for the day. Since most of us use our phones to keep time, don't forget a wrist watch to keep you and your cabin from missing a minute of our positive programming!
2. Reusable Water Bottle
Brace yourself, the HydroFlasks are coming! Whether you are a part of the HydroFlask movement or you are just on-board with helping out Mother Nature, we HIGHLY recommend that you pack a reusable water bottle. There are multiple fill stations throughout camp and H20 is always available at all meals. Take advantage of these opportunities to hydrate and set a great example for your campers! Swift stickers will be provided to make sure your hydration is on point. ;)
1. Swimsuits AND Towels
With Lake time and multiple Pool visits, you will get your fair share of time in/on the water while you're at Camp Swift. Don't forget to pack a swim suit (or two) and Lake/Pool towel IN ADDITION to your shower towel. Don't get caught sopping wet after an adventure, pack a towel! Of all forgotten items, this was the #1 thing that most Support Staff reported forgetting to pack!
Also remember you will be in/on the water alongside your campers playing Marco Polo, canoeing the lake, and maybe even teaching a camper how to swim for the first time. Appropriate swimwear is crucial for your enjoyment at camp. If you wouldn't wear it to your grandma's house, don't wear it at Camp :)
Have an item that you always forget to pack or can't live without at Camp Swift! Comment below and we'll add it to the list!
July 10, 2019
originally published on JewishAZ.com
For nearly 40 years, Camp Swift has continued to provide economically disadvantaged youth with the opportunity to experience overnight summer camp. For many of the mostly Jewish teen and young adult volunteers, the camp is an opportunity to build leadership skills and create meaningful relationships.
“At the end of the camp, when we’re sending the kids to go home, I’ve seen the most macho, stone-cold, big guys break down,” Swift volunteer Kara Sherman said. “Because the relationships that are established between all levels of staff with these campers are so emotional that it’s not just a surface-level camp.”
The Swift Youth Foundation holds its Camp Swift program in two weeklong sessions every summer at Camp Daisy and Harry Stein. This year’s first session ended in May and the second session will begin on July 31 and end on Aug. 4. Campers range from ages 8 to 11 and are predominantly from the Hispanic, African American and Native American communities of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Sherman — who just completed her first year of college — has volunteered for four years at the weeklong camp and has attended six sessions.
Sunnyslope High School senior Alexis Hatch is now in her third year as a volunteer for Swift. She found being a volunteer and team member very challenging, but she also saw firsthand how her hard work paid off.
“I think one of the best parts about Swift is leaving knowing that you’ve made an impact, a positive impact that can actually better the lives of another person,” Hatch said. “Those personal feelings of accomplishment and the concrete impact we’re making on these kids, as well as the strong friendships I’ve made while at camp, have kept me coming back these past three years.”
Hatch and Sherman both felt that their experience at the camp helped develop skills in leadership and teamwork in a practical setting. Hatch said that after her first summer as a counselor, she left the program feeling more responsible, patient and capable of solving problems.
One of those problems is getting campers to overcome their fears about camp. “Often, they don’t have prior experience with camp activities like rock wall or even the swimming pool,”Hatch explained. “As with all kids, trying something unfamiliar is scary. As counselors, we get a lot of training on how to convince these kids to take the plunge, but it’s definitely a challenge.”
Once they do, she said, it’s powerful to see. Both she and Sherman plan to come back to the camp. Some past counselors, like Kaylie Medansky, have turned their passion for Swift into a full-time career.
Medansky serves as the executive director for the Swift Youth Foundation. She began volunteering as a counselor when she was 15 and continued her work with Swift through the organization’s year-round programs. Each of the programs offer mentorship opportunities and build the same type of relationship opportunities that the overnight camp does.
“The peer mentorship element of all of our programs is what makes Swift stand out from other camps and out-of-school program providers,” Medansky explained. “Swift is one of the most hands-on volunteer opportunities available for teens and therefore provides a life-changing experience for everyone involved — both the teens and the youth participants.”
Camp Swift was founded in 1980, when Jewish teen members of the Southwest chapter of NFTY wanted to give less fortunate children in the Phoenix area a free summer camp experience. Camp Swift became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1995 and its first after-school programs were created in 2002. In 2015 the camp was rebranded as the Swift Youth Foundation. Club Swift is one of the programs for students year-round and is a high school leadership development program that started in 2010 for former Camp Swift campers.
Swift is funded primarily by individual donations, although it has received grants through the Nina Pulliam Summer Youth Program Fund and the B’nai Tzedek Youth Philanthropy Fund. Swift is also partnered with several community organizations such as the NFTY Southwest chapter, the Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix and several Title 1 school districts to recruit participants. “Several districts believe so highly in the benefits and learning experiences provided by Swift that the program has been incorporated into their curriculum,” Medansky said.
While Swift has grown significantly since 1980, Medansky said that its core mission to provide at-risk youth with a free summer camp has never changed. Through team-building activities as well as both peer mentoringand goal-setting programs, campers areprovided with “the tools they need to achieve success.” JN
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