On Friday, U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney (2nd District – Connecticut) stopped by to visit a program that is carrying out the mission and goals of United We Serve Let’s Read. Let’s Move. Camp Rotary is a five-week summer program for middle school students in New London, Connecticut. The camp is made possible by a unique partnership between the Connecticut College Office of Volunteers for Community Service, New London Public Schools, the Rotary Club of New London, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The Rotary Club of New London and its partner foundation provide substantial funding for Camp Rotary, which engages 60 middle school students from the New London Public Schools in summer activities ranging from poetry writing and art projects to basketball games and swimming classes. The summer program runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday for five weeks. The students also participate in field trips to local colleges as part of a strategy to get them thinking about college as an option.
New London Public Schools provide some of the teachers and classroom space for Camp Rotary. The Connecticut College Office of Volunteers for Community Service applied to the Corporation for National and Community Service for five AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates to round out the Camp Rotary faculty. The Summer Associates receive a living allowance and an education award from the Corporation for National and Community Service in exchange for their eight weeks of service.
Congressman Courtney, a strong supporter of AmeriCorps, spent more than an hour on Friday meeting with the teachers, the students, and the funders of Camp Rotary. He visited several workshops, including one on creative writing and another one that involved the students assembling collages of photos and phrases that depicted their hopes and dreams for their futures. At the end of his visit, he addressed the students and encouraged them to attend college, not just for their own benefit, but to strengthen the United States’ college graduation rate, which is currently 12th in the world.
Special thanks to Tracee Reiser, Associate Dean of Connecticut College’s Office of Volunteers for Community Service and director of Connecticut College’s AmeriCorps VISTA project. Tracee’s connections brought together the various partners that make Camp Rotary happen.
Anne Ostberg is the Connecticut State Program Director for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
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