Here’s a great story at BlueRidgeNow about Little Brother Andre (pictured) heading to summer camp, written by Joey Popp (also pictured), his Big Brother who talks about the transformative experience that camp can be. Thank you, BlueRidgeNow!
And here’s the story if you can’t get past the news site’s paywall.
Summer Camp Adventure
Talk about opening back up from a year ago! Just ask Little Brother Andre what it means to him. This 12 year old is off to camp for the first time and will be gone a whole week.
Andre has never been away from home and loved ones for more than a night or two. He’s waited to experience such an adventure. Andre is among other youth of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina to take in this special opportunity, thanks to special funding. “The Camp Diversity Foundation was established thirteen years ago to give economically challenged boys the opportunity to experience a traditional camp atmosphere,” said Paul Gwaltney, Camp Diversity Foundation Executive Director.
It’s been said that many of us who now call Henderson County and Western North Carolina home, returned here because of the camp experience from years ago. I can remember going to camp as if it was yesterday. I guess that was the first time on my own. It required me to open up, make new friends, experience challenging adventures and take on responsibility. I also learned to be more courteous and thankful for my family, especially when a touch of homesick kicked in.
I sure hope Andre goes into camp with eyes wide open, willing to jump right in with activities coming his way. Aw-shucks, I know he will! That’s one thing I’ve learned as his Big Brother. He’s not afraid to take on new things, like trying sushi. He never had it until we became buddies. Just ask him what his favorite food is now.
And talk about being confident, he’ll be the first to step forward if the camp counselor needs a leader. Gosh, I can see it now. So proud to think what kind of report awaits me.
He’s come a long way in the last five years. When I first volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters, my goal was to support, guide and be the best mentor possible to the second grader assigned to me. I soon realized the challenges Andre faced, but was determined to share my time and try to make a difference. Along the way we’ve headed to the library to work on reading and writing skills, grown a garden together the last few summers and taken in many sporting events, just to name a few activities.
Now that camp is added to the list, I feel we’ve graduated to the next level. Like I said, he’s ready.
There are Littles waiting for other Big Brothers and Big Sisters to help them along the way too. Consider taking the plunge and mentor a young person. We get together at least twice a month and it seems every time becomes a memorable experience. The next time will be extra special. I can’t wait to hear all about camp, and look forward to sharing many new adventures that await him.
Andre is a rising seventh grader and looking forward to return to school in the fall. In addition to being his Big Brother, Joey Popp sits on the Board of Directors for BBBSWNC and currently serves on the Henderson County Advisory Council. In 2020, Joey was named North Carolina’s Big Brother of the Year. He’s a freelance journalist based in Hendersonville.
For information on how you can volunteer for BBBS, reach out to program coordinator Morgan Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-507-6644.