Youth/Schools Testimonials

Bruce E. Crossman
Indian Creek School

We bring our 8th graders because of Team and Community Building activities. We also want the students the challenge themselves physically, emotionally, and socially. The students also work on our 4 Rs : Risk, Responsibility, Respect and Relationships.

Our annual 3 day 2 night trip is full of traditions.  As I sit here in my office, I am surrounded by an Indian Creek School tradition. The signatures of all eighth graders from 1985 through 2013 are on display on the 29 bandanas that were autographed by the students during our annual 8th grade camping trips to Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center in Parkton, MD. We have been bringing our middle school students to GVOLC since 1981 for team and community building experiences. On the 1985 trip, I decided to commemorate a really good camping trip with a great bunch of students by having them sign a bandana that I happened to be using at that time. This bandana was then hung in my science classroom. The following year, the next group of eighth graders, upon completing their trip to GVOLC said, “Don’t we get to sign a bandana?” I realized at that time that a new tradition was beginning. After fifteen years of collecting these bandanas, I ran out of space for displaying them in my office. With the help of a talented woman from a local fabric store, I was able to stitch the bandanas into a quilt. Now, 14 years after completing that quilt, it is just about time to make a second quilt.

As I reflect back over my 33 years here at the CREEK and glance over the 1400 plus signatures, these students will always be my middle schoolers. When alumni come back to visit me, we go to their bandana, find their name and have a great time catching up on their classmates and sharing stories of their time in middle school. For the past 29 years, each CREEKER middle school alumnus has left his/her name in writing on a bandana, and each one has also left an imprint in my memory, creating an integral part of my joyful journey as a middle school educator.


Dear Genesee family,

Thank you for helping form very special memories for our family and friends.  There are other places that provide challenges and adventure, but Genesee Valley has the uniquely talented staff that transforms a physical experience to an emotional and spiritual one.  Whether its been a day focused on communication and team work for couples, a teenager overcoming personal limitations, a 40th Birthday Party, cub scout event, or the nature-filled wonder of summer camp for our children…..you’ve got the right formula, and feel fortunate that we have you close by.

Good Luck to you.

Catherine Witt Buccheri


Dear Genesee Valley,

We bring our students to Genesee Valley each year for a few reasons: Genesee Valley is our first of 9 trips throughout the school year, and we want to kick-off the year with fun activities that make them think, be active, and allow each other to bond.  Many of our students do not leave the city or have seen large, open areas of land – this will be something out of their element. Genesee Valley also lets our students to feel challenged but also have the chance to meet their fellow classmates.

Elisabeth Jacobs
Program Coordinator
Building STEPS
PO Box 1393
Brooklandville, MD 21022-1393
www.buildingSTEPS.org
United Way Agency #4741


Dear Genesee Valley Family,

I am a Youth Coordinator at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM).

Work To Independence provides students with the confidence, skills, and resources to succeed in college or employment.  One element of the program is independence skills development, which includes classes in Braille, adaptive technology, independent living, and cane travel.  Confidence-building is another element of Work to Independence.  Students travel to local tourist attractions, amusement parks, and sporting events, plus cities like Washington D.C., Orlando, and New York City; they also rock climb, compete in field games, and swim.  During the final three weeks, students gain valuable paid job experience while working at local businesses and organizations.

Genesee Valley serves as a transformative confidence builder for students.  Here at BISM, we believe that blindness is only a characteristic that should not define or limit one’s future.  Confidence-building activities support this belief as students are challenged to go beyond their fears and raise their own expectations.  If students are able to swing across a zip-line, then daily tasks like cooking, crossing a street, or reading braille becomes easier.  Often times, blind high school students are restricted in their physical education activities or forced to take cane travel lessons instead.  Attending Genesee Valley not only provides opportunities for students to increase their confidence, it is also an outstanding physical activity!

Last year, BISM took nine students and six staff members to Genesee Valley.  We chose to insert this activity at the beginning of the program in order to encourage students to work together and to confidently set high expectations for their summer.  One of the most inspiring moments occurred when a student refused to go on the zip line.  She descended the ladder and everyone cheered for her boldness.  Without warning, she decided to give it one more chance, and she loved it!  This same student was often told to use elevators and thus had very little exposure to stairs or escalators prior to entering Work to Independence.  I recall on our trip to Washington D.C., she stated, “If you guys could have me swing across some lake on a rope, I guess I can go up this escalator.”

Sincerely,

Melissa Lomax
Youth Services Coordinator
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland
3345 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21227
(410) 737-2642
www.bism.org/youth


Frances widdick
BCPS – College Connection

We bring our group to Genesee for the overnight experience.  Our students learn to face fears and feel uplifted when they do.  Many of the activities are based on group cooperation and trust.  Going to Genesee Valley is unique for our students.  Genesee Valley provides a safe environment to explore outdoor learning.
Genesee Valley is a rich environment in which to experience one’s best qualities.

One student (among many), who took the leap of the zip line stated: “I didn’t want to do it, but I did it”! He felt so good about himself that he began helping others.

We have been coming to Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center for almost 20 years and have loved every minute of it. Even during inclement weather. We have had wonderful counselors that have guided us along the way. We are especially fond of Jeff Panucci, who has spent many fun hours with us.