Campers from China stay at Green Mountain Camp

Saturday July 20, 2013

DUMMERSTON -- After a long flight, two girls from China arrived at Green Mountain Camp to spend a couple of weeks.

Friends Candy (Xin Xiong) and Farrah (Fei Xu) were not used to the bugs that inhabit rural Southern Vermont when they settled in at the all-girls camp. But they started to get use to the creatures and formed bonds at the camp.

"I like camp very much," said Candy. "Vermont is very beautiful."

She mentioned that the meals were good, and she has learned to swim much better during her time at the Dummerston camp. Farrah said that she enjoys the art projects that campers work on during their stay.

On July 17, the girls created friendship bracelets along with the other campers during an art workshop. Candy told the Reformer that Farrah is very good at making the bracelets. Later that same day, Candy learned how to dive into a pool.

The first night was difficult for Candy -- she had trouble sleeping and felt homesick. After receiving a letter from her mother the next day and getting a good night's sleep, she said she felt much better.

Since then, Candy's had a great time. Both girls have made a lot of friends while learning a little about American culture and teaching the other campers about Chinese culture.

During their stay at Green Mountain Camp, Candy and Farrah taught the other campers and counselors how to sing a camp favorite "Mangos" in Chinese. They translated the words during a sing-along session.

"They are quick learners," said Candy of her fellow campers.

The two girls heard about Green Mountain Camp from Brattleboro native Stacy Walsh, who taught abroad last school year. After graduating from the University of Vermont, she applied for a job in China with assistance from a professor.

One of girl's mothers was Walsh's contact during her stay in China and during the fall, she asked Walsh where she'd be spending her summer.

Walsh was planning to go home to Brattleboro and visit with her family. She mentioned Green Mountain Camp, which she had attended in her youth.

"Three weeks before I went home, they asked to go to camp," said Walsh. "It happened very quickly, very last minute."

She contacted Green Mountain Camp Director Billie Slade, who made arrangements for the girls.

Walsh will be returning to China next school year for another year. Both girls are going to be in the fifth grade next year, and they each had Stacy as a teacher but in different classes.

Their parents stayed at a hotel in Brattleboro for the two weeks of camp. During the weekend that splits the two weeks, there is some down time before the next camp week begins, so their parents were planning to take different trips, which include visiting Yellowstone National Park and Boston.


Another visitor from abroad -- 15-year-old Esti Saitua, who lives in the northern part of Spain -- is currently working as a counselor-in-training at the camp for two weeks.

Saitua told the Reformer that she's learned a lot of songs since she began and has experienced a different camp setting than she did in Spain.

"There's no cabins and no s'mores," she said of camps in her country.

Besides her job at the camp, Saitua is learning photography at the Insight Photography Project in Brattleboro.

For the next two weeks, there are 72 campers scheduled to attend Green Mountain Camp, along with 22 staff members.

Throughout the summer, six weeks of camp will be available, featuring different programs for different ages. Camp weeks began on June 24 and will end on Aug. 2.

This past week, campers hailed from 10 different states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maine Washington and Massachusetts.

The reputation of the camp is part of the reason many campers attend. It becomes a generational tradition, which mothers like to send their daughters to. Some grandmothers have even attended and encouraged their grandchildren to go.

When it comes to describing the international influence on the camp, Slade smiles.

"It's a tribute to the camp and counselors," she said. "I think we're all richer for the experience."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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