"Fresh Air" Breezes Into Rye Today

The campers of the Fresh Air Fund arrive in Rye this afternoon for a week of summer fun before school re-opens.

Homes in Rye, Old Greenwich, Westport, Cos Cob, Irvington, and Ridgefield will be 'home away from home' for a small group of children from New York City.

The Fresh Air Fund bus will stop at this afternoon, carrying kids from all five boroughs out of the noisy, congested streets of the largest metropolis on earth and into suburban, and in some cases rural Westchester and South Connecticut neighborhoods.

The campers, ages 6 to 18, participate in the Fresh Air Fund camp program for a literal change in scenery: some are leaving home for the first time to spend time in an environment where they can run barefoot in the grass or see the stars at night. Other participants are returning to host families they've bonded with during previous summers.

Ilene Goodman helps coordinate host families for the Fresh Air Fund by interviewing potential candidate families and doing home visits to see what kind of domestic situation exists. 

"The thing that these kids seem to enjoy doing most is taking advantage of their new surroundings,” Goodman said. "They can always go to a mall or a movie back home but to bike ride, and do other things in a different neighborhood is such a great experience for these kids.”

Parents and children eagerly wait for the bus to arrive; with balloons and welcome signs; all in an effort to make their guests, if only for 10 days, feel as if they are a part of the family.

Some of the kids from NYC are doing more than relaxing all week: many have learned valuable lessons whether it is lessons about the outdoors or how to swim.

The Fresh Air Fund has provided summertime experiences for more than 1.7 million children in its 135 years in New York, all free of charge to the families that are chosen. Each summer, thousands of New York City children from low-income neighborhoods visit volunteer host families in 13 Northeastern states and Canada.


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