I love the idea of getting kids from big cities out into small towns and rural areas, giving them new experiences.
Here’s the press release info from one organization that does just that, The Fresh Air Fund.
THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.
In 1877, the Reverend Willard Parsons, minister of a small rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations as volunteer host families for children from New York City tenements. This was the beginning of The Fresh Air Fund tradition of caring for NYC’s neediest children. The simplicity of our program is its strength. Looking back to 1877, we can reflect on how much has changed, and how much has stayed the same. In 2008, close to 10,000 New York City children experienced the joys of summertime in Friendly Towns and at five Fund camps in upstate New York.
If you could help bring kids out to small towns, would you? What other similar programs around the world do you know about?
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Bobbie Stacey says
My tween-aged nephews visit us from southern CA almost every summer. They are not in any way economically disadvantaged, but they absolutely adore the freedom of movement that our small town life allows. They get here and join my kids on bikes and take off in a pack with absolute freedom to go to the beach, a huge park, a local convenience store or the adjacent taco place as they see fit. Carlsbad and Encinitas suburban sprawl just doesn’t have the safe, low traffic environment to afford them that kind of freedom.
If middle class kids who live a mile from the ocean can find comparative advantage here for “being a kid” then NYC kids would be in heaven. I will look further into this.
Becky McCray says
Bobbie, I’d love to see more of us in rural areas find ways to bring kids out of the city. If you are in the US northeast, this is one way to do it. If you’re anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to look around. And, Bobbie, you are exactly right, start with family!
Back in the “day” (mid to late 50’s), my second cousins from CA used to come of Oklahoma for several weeks each summer. Even back then, they loved the freedom of movement and they thought our great big old WPA constructed swimming pool was the best thing they had seen.
The boys were Boy Scouts and into long distance underwater stuff which they could not practice for in their local average pool.
The stores that were then all around our local square fascinated them, too. (This was before strip malls sprang up everywhere in CA.)
All in all, the country/rural/small town atmosphere has always appealed to kids from larger, more crowded places. And it is a really good thing that they should get to experience a more laid back life.