FULTON, NY – A small crowd gathered in the Burger King parking lot in Fulton on Tuesday afternoon. Some families held signs and balloons as they eagerly awaited the arrival of the bus from New York City carrying kids participating in the Fresh Air Fund who will be visiting Upstate New York for the next two weeks.
Some children were visiting Upstate for the first time, while others are returning to visit the same host families from previous summers.
The goal is for families treat their guests to the full Upstate experience, and treat kids from the city to something many of them have never experienced before.
“We do a lot of activities,” said Vanessa Flint, who is 12 just like their guest, Nyona. “We go camping; we go on our boat and a lot of swimming.”
The Flint family has hosted Nyona for the past seven summers, and has even visited with her down in NYC.
“She didn’t know what s’mores were,” Vanessa remembered of Nyona’s early visits. “Now she loves them!”
The Sachel family was excited to be a host family for the first time.
Eight-year-old Cici will spend two weeks with the family during which time the goal is to teach her to swim and ride a bike.
“I’ve never learned how to ride a two-wheeler so I’m very excited about that,” said Cici.
Hayden Sachel was looking forward to hearing how kids from the city “do things differently” and what things we think are “routine” in Upstate would seem unusual to Cici.
Sydney Sachel was looking forward to learning on of Cici’s special skills: “She’s gonna teach us how to double dutch!”
“She’s on a world champion team,” added Wendy Sachel. “We’ve been talking to her a lot. We’ve been sending each other videos. She sent us one right before she got on the bus!”
Before the kids come up to visit they email, Facebook, and video chat with their host families so everyone gets to know one another better.
“I’ve seen videos,” said Cici. “I’m very excited to see the house.”
As each child came off the bus, they were met with a welcome packet.
Eileen Sharkey of the Central New York Committee spent the winter gathering coupons from local businesses and restaurants to give to families.
There will be plenty to do for the next two weeks!
“The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877.
Each summer, more than 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program.”