-For the past four years, Camp Wayne has donated its facilities to host a day camp for under served kids from two area schools.
The Preston-Hancock Experience as it's called, welcomes students from the two schools who will be going into fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade when school starts up again in the fall.
Michael Corpuel and his wife, Randy, are the directors of the Preston-Hancock Experience. He is a retired college professor while she is retired from running a clay studio.
"We wanted to do something good for the community," Mike said. "We spoke to the principals at these schools about doing this program and they thought it was a good idea."
The program gives children who have limited opportunities during the summer to attend camp. In turn, the students make a pledge to attend the camp for four years, try hard in school, be good citizens and graduate from high school.
The program started with 17 campers its first year and now has 49 who attend.
"The students are chosen by their principal and teachers," Mike stated.
After their fourth year of the Preston-Hancock Experience, when they are ready to enter the ninth grade, the students have an opportunity to take part in a leadership program.
"They help out more in their fourth year at camp and get their feet wet," said Mike. "It gives them an opportunity to help some of the younger kids."
"They could possibly become counselors in the future," said Jessica Marcus, 22, one of the counselors at Camp Wayne.
She started out as a camper at Camp Wayne and has been a counselor for five years. She has also been a counselor for the Preston-Hancock Experience for "three of the four" years it's been taking place.
For the Preston-Hancock Experience there is a staff of approximately 30 people, in three different ranges.
"Some are older adults, some are in college or recently graduated from college and others are high school volunteers," Marcus said.
She added that it's like an internship for college students and community service for high school students.
"I like it," Marcus said. "I went with Mike and Randy to visit the schools in May and the kids were looking forward to it. They're very excited to come to the camp."
Marcus stated that it gives the students an opportunity to do something "fun and different."
"They have a lot of activities," she said. "There's basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, tye dying, ceramics, jewelry making, music, gymnastics, dance, high ropes, cooking and of course swimming. They love going to the lake and they also get to kayak."
Page 2 of 3 - She said that her favorite part of being a counselor is "seeing them [the campers] grow and change."
The Preston-Hancock Experience is free to the students, with the help of Camp Wayne and local businesses.
"Camp Wayne donates their property for us to use and they also donate food," said Mike. "Local businesses also help sponsor it."
He added that they raise money to help with salaries and getting crafts and equipment.
Max Goldstein, who will be a junior this fall at Jericho High School in New York, helps out the camp with his own charity that he started with a friend.
Play It Forward JHS collects and donates sports clothing and is in its second year.
"We have three or four major collections a year," Goldstein said. "I started it when I was a freshman and it just snowballed. Now it's a community-wide athletic effort."
He said that so far, over 1,000 items have been donated.
"Not all of it is used at the Preston-Hancock Experience," Goldstein said. "The excess is donated to other places, too."
Even with the excess, they still collect clothing.
Representatives from the Hancock School District stopped by the camp on Tuesday and all three agreed that the Preston-Hancock Experience is a great thing for the students.
"First I'd like to thank Mike and Camp Wayne for hosting this," said Terrance Dougherty, superintendent. "I'd also like to thank the local sponsors who support the program. It gives the kids a chance to attend camp, which they might not be able to do otherwise. We're very grateful for the program."
He added that it enhances the students and helps their growth and development "intellectually, socially, physically."
"It's a wonderful experience and opportunity for them," added Mike MacDonald, director of people personnel.
"They get a new community of friends and gives them a positive atmosphere that they bring back home and they also know how to relate it in the community," stated Brenton Taylor, K12 principal. "It's an opportunity for them to get together, have a fun experience and learn at the same time."
Some of the campers also shared their thoughts on the program.
Billy Bekanich, a fourth year camper from the Preston school, said he loves getting to see his friends and talking to them.
"I like it all," he stated. "I'm not fond of heights but each year I do the ropes and have fun with it."
"I love making new friends," said Lauryn Sokol, also a fourth year camper from the Preston school. "I get to do some things I might not get to otherwise. I would recommend the program."
Page 3 of 3 - She also plans on continuing with the leadership program.
"I like seeing my friends from Preston," said Brett Rave, a second year camper from the Hancock school. "I like the high ropes and swimming. Camp is awesome."
Emily Rubero, a second year camper from the Hancock school, also loves the activities.
"I like doing gymnastics and dance," she said.
"They give us food and they're really nice," said Vanessa Tompkins about the staff.
She is a second year camper from the Hancock school. She also recommends the camp and loves gymnastics and pottery.
Dustin Fenescey, a second year camper from the Preston school, is very excited to come back to camp.
"I love swimming and sports and making friends from the other school too," he said.