The Living is Easy

September 5, 2022

... when it’s summertime, and you’re an 1199 kid!

Screen Shot 2022-09-05 at 10.54.03 AM.pngSince 1965, when the Anne Shore Camp program began, 1199ers’ children who are between the ages of nine and 15 have been enjoying up to four weeks breaks at sleepaway camps throughout the Northeast.

The outdoor camp program is administered by the 1199SEIU Child Care Corporation and has traditionally served between 850 and 900 kids annually.

During the height of the pandemic, the program had to scale back. But this summer, it is almost back up to speed, accommodating more than 700 Union kids at 20 camps with activities ranging from athletics to fine arts and technology, and, of course, outdoor activities. There are also programs for teenaged, disabled and special needs campers.

This July, 1199 Magazine visited the Hands In 4 Youth (Camp Vacamas) in West Milford, NJ, a sleep away camp that sits on 250 acres of land and provides a wide range of summer activities as well as day camps and after school programs throughout the year. Janneris Geraldo, Director of Programs, has worked at Hands In 4 Youth for the past 17 years, and is excited to have the camp back almost at full speed. “When the pandemic hit, it was hard. What worked for us is that since the majority of our activities are outside, we constantly have them out and moving around.

We were able to keep our day camp open, and in 2021, we had our sleepaway camp return. And in all that time, we haven’t had any [COVID-19] cases, which is great.”

Screen Shot 2022-09-05 at 10.54.37 AM.pngWhile 1199 Magazine visited the camp, many of the teen campers were preparing to hike and canoe 33 miles of the Appalachian trail—a five-day activity. “I’m nervous because I’m not sure what to expect, but I think it’ll be fun,” says Jasmine Johnson, 15, who has attended the camp every year since she was seven. “I know all the counselors here and they all know me, it’s like family.” Her younger sister by seven minutes, Erica Johnson, also attends and will go on the hike. “I’m not looking forward to all the walking, but I am excited about the canoeing.”

Ulises Becera, 15, talked about the preparation for the hike: “I’ve learned a lot of skills here; I’ve gotten better at swimming.”

When asked what’s her favorite part of camp, Gessie St. Jacques, 10, didn’t hesitate, “Crafts! I love the bracelets we got to make.” Her friend, Denise Lema, 11, is more practical, “I like learning about which bugs are harmful or not; like there’s two spiders out here, the wolf spider is dangerous so watch out for those.” Another camper, Nemiah Laponte, 11, talked about learning skills and new experiences, “We got to do “floating lunch” [eating lunch on a boat]. And I learned how to build my own fire and cook food and how to make a shelter.

It’s really fun!” The program is open to children of eligible members covered under the National Benefit Fund and the Greater New York Child Care Fund.

The 1199SEIU Child Care Corporation offers opportunities for parents to learn about summer camp, including a Virtual Camp Fair each fall and Virtual Parent Seminar each winter.

For more information, call 212-564-2220 ext. 3460, or email: AnneShoreCampProgram

1199 Magazine - July / August 2022