Last summer, when Agassiz Village welcomed kids back to in-person camp after an extraordinarily challenging year and a half, we witnessed firsthand just how powerful camp can be. Powerful not only because it gives kids the chance to experience nature and have fun, but because its opportunities for social-emotional learning and growth meet a critical need as young people face increased mental health challenges, especially those from communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This summer, Agassiz Village will serve 50% more youth than in 2021 and plans to launch an improved programming that will center a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. SEL is an evidence-based model that improves mental health outcomes and helps kids thrive by teaching them to identify and manage their emotions, build healthy relationships, and make great decisions. We are also working to ensure our staff has the mental health and trauma-informed care training they need to better support youth and that our facilities and spaces around camp support the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our kids this summer.
Thanks to the hard work of a volunteer team lead by AV alumna Nancy Glynn-Santos, we have refurbished Agassiz’s camp library into a new “Serenity Cabin,” which will serve as a safe space for campers to unwind, and house a social worker, a new addition to our summer staff who can support kids struggling with difficult emotions or behaviors as needed.
Over Agassiz’s annual spring Volunteer Weekend, Nancy and her crew spent hours restoring the camp library, a beautiful but under-utilized building nestled among the trees and overlooking the lake, into a serene space for kids and staff. Previously empty, the Serenity Cabin is now filled with hundreds of donated books, puzzles and coloring supplies, cozy couches, bean bags, and pillows, fidget toys campers can use to ground themselves and regulate their emotions, and an office set-up for the summer social worker. Colorful Adirondack chairs and outdoor games cover the lawn just outside the building, adding a serene outdoor space to the cabin as well.
When campers visit the Serenity Cabin to meet with the social worker, read, play with a fidget, work on a puzzle, or just relax, they will also be greeted by the relaxing sounds of the water moving on the lake, wind in the trees, and birds chirping, thanks to the cabin’s woodsy location.
Nancy and her fellow volunteers dedicated one of the cabin’s reading nooks to their beloved friend and former counselor Betsy Huck Orth. “The library was her favorite place on camp," said Nancy. "The library was completely empty before we arrived, but with everybody’s generous donations of books, it is fully stocked with a great variety of books for the campers."
"We are hoping that if a camper doesn’t finish a book they can take it home. Our goal is to add new books every year. Thank you so much to everyone who donated a book or books. I [also] wish to thank Laura Glynn, Kevin Santos, and Joanne Musto for all their hard work setting up the cabin with me. It takes a village!"
Watch the video below for a full tour of our new Serenity Cabin:
Read more about the Serenity Cabin restoration and our May Volunteer Weekend in the Lewiston Sun Journal >>