In 1990 a five year old kindergartner attended the first ever Summer Academy Day Camp. Bursting with energy and full of joy, he engaged the experience with great enthusiasm. He had been "expelled" from another neighborhood program and was anxious to please and serious about succeeding.
During the next twelve years he was a member of every after school and teen group available to him. He recruited his best friend. Together they became Junior Leaders, learning about service and leadership while volunteering to model positive behavior and attitudes in groups with younger children. In high school they juggled part-time employment with their school work and commitment to the Leadership Training Program. They planned a good-bye ceremony for the first Midtown bus, nicknamed "Old Rusty," during day camp. Upon graduation from high school they completed their experience with a final Summer Academy Day Camp program as group leaders and teen mentors.
Currently, this former member of the first day camp group of Loveable Unicorns, is an employed young father. He enrolled his son in his first day camp group at Midtown. The father's memories reinforced the son's positive experience…he couldn't wait to sing the songs his father had taught him and enjoy activities at the park. Participating in structured groups which nurture strengths and develop skills allows children to shrug off labels of "too busy", "too bad", and "too different". Statistics show the little boy, expelled from other programs and labeled by teachers, might have become yet another high school drop-out with few skills and even less hope for success in life.