A magnificent obsession to have


By Julie Capaldi - Contributing Columnist



I am obsessed with Camp iRock. It’s no secret. I love to watch brilliant teachers work their magic with struggling readers. My colleagues make fun of me because I occasionally disappear from my office only to be found in my hiding spot in the back of the Camp iRock classroom.

I am not the only one.

Anna Crittendon, a 2014 graduate of Wren High School and Clemson University sophomore majoring in Early Childhood Education, knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. Her dreams include teaching our youngest, most vulnerable children.

Last summer, Anna worked as a day camp counsellor at Camp iRock.

Around the Christmas holidays, Anna and several of her fellow counsellors visited McKissick Elementary School to have lunch with some of their former campers. She was so moved by that experience, she immediately shared her feelings. We were so touched. It’s the fuel that keeps us motivated. Here’s what she said.

“Last summer, I was privileged to work as a day camp counselor at Camp iRock in Pickens County. My campers were rising 2nd graders and they were the most incredible kids I’ve ever met. These kids were difficult. They were hard to teach. They required incredibly high levels of attention from all counselors and teachers, and they forced me to use more patience than I’ve ever had in my life.

However, I am a firm believer that Camp iRock is the best thing that could ever have happened to these children. I watched them grow in more ways than any of us ever thought possible.

These campers spent a summer learning, playing, growing and changing for the better. I visited a few of my kids today for the first time since this summer, and I can honestly say that their improvement was absolutely evident in so many ways. One of my campers cried as he told me that he got an A in reading for the first time in his life. Another rejoiced and simply could not stop smiling as he told me how camp had finally taught him to be respectful of his teachers.

This opportunity for children to go to Camp iRock is absolutely beautiful. I am so appreciative of everyone that made this happen-to everyone who spent time investing and believing in the lives of the next generation. You touched the lives of so many children in ways that you would never believe possible. Thank you for believing in them and stepping in to help them is so many ways. Camp iRock is unbelievably life-changing for everyone involved.”

Yes, Camp iRock is wicked expensive. It costs $1,800 per child for 8 weeks of camp. But, what an investment in a child. A very wise teacher once told me that from birth to the 3rd grade, children are learning to read but after the 3rd grade, they are reading to learn.

My United Way team has been fundraising like maniacs for months to ensure that all children who qualify for Camp iRock, have the chance to go.

If you would like more information about Camp iRock or would like to contribute, call or email me directly, 850-7094 x101/jcapaldi@uwpickens.org.

My “soul sister” Anna can’t get enough of Camp iRock either. She’s applied to be a counsellor again this summer. Thank God!

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By Julie Capaldi

Contributing Columnist

Julie Capaldi is president of United Way of Pickens County. She can be reached at jcapaldi@uwpickens.org or 864-850-7094, extension 101.

Julie Capaldi is president of United Way of Pickens County. She can be reached at jcapaldi@uwpickens.org or 864-850-7094, extension 101.

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