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AREA CHILDREN FIND SUMMER FUN AT COLLEGE-RUN DAY CAMP

If Haverford’s population appears decidedly shorter, younger and giddier this summer, don’t jump to the conclusion that the Duck Pond has transformed into a Fountain of Youth. You’re seeing the children of Serendipity Day Camp, running from June 28 through August 12, on the College campus.

Organized by 8th Dimension, Haverford’s Office of Community Service, Serendipity Day Camp invites area children ages 5-13 to participate in sports, swimming, arts and crafts and more under the supervision of the Haverford students and alumni serving as senior counselors.

“We count on the counselors to be the creative force for the summer,” says Page Widick ’04, who co-directs this year’s camp along with Kyle Smiddie ’04. “All of the activities will be created and run by them, and we are hoping for some really interesting new ideas to be implemented.” Along with the traditional outdoor games, this summer’s Serendipity will include field trips to the Franklin Institute and Clementon Amusement Park, an on-campus carnival, and the popular Drama Night, featuring skits written and performed by each age group.

A typical day at Serendipity begins at 9 a.m., and the morning consists of two activities chosen by the counselors; these often follow a weekly theme such as “Science” or “Bats and Balls.” The children swim for an hour each morning and eat lunch together on Barclay beach. In the afternoon there are more counselor-created activities until the camp day officially ends at 3 p.m. However, many campers stay for the after-hours reading program that lasts until 4:15 or 4:30.

Widick has been involved with Serendipity since her first year at Haverford. She applied to be a counselor because of her desire to work with children and her interest in connecting with the residential communities surrounding the College. “I have also always been committed to social justice and equality,” she says, “and Serendipity, a camp that brings together children of varied ethnic, socio-economic and educational backgrounds, appeared to be a place that agreed with my own views.” Now as co-director, she and Smiddie help maintain relationships with the children and their parents, organize field trips, assist counselors in planning programs, and act as disciplinarians and mentors for the campers.

They were also in charge of selecting this year’s senior and junior counselors—staff, faculty, children, and neighborhood residents aged 15 or older. “We looked for people who showed great enthusiasm and creativity, people with a wide range of interests and talents that should combine to create a fantastic camp atmosphere for the kids,” says Widick. Before the start of camp, all counselors came together for a week of orientation where they discussed potential difficulties, brainstormed activities, and received training in CPR and dealing with children with special needs.

When asked what she likes best about Serendipity, Widick doesn’t hesitate to answer: “The kids. I have never learned as much from any group of people as I have from the campers that I have counseled in my summers at Serendipity.” She hopes that this year’s children have a joyous, carefree experience of playfulness, discovery, and simply being a kid—with a twist:

“One of the most inspiring things about Serendipity is the way it allows children from such different backgrounds to interact with one another,” says Widick. “I hope that the kids will be able to maintain that openness and acceptance in other aspects of their lives.”

 

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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