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The photo above shows (from left) Kirstin Johnson,  Megan McGuire, Morgan Zalcman and Caytlyn McLaughlin.

Rotary Club Makes Students’ Summer Special

Camp Farwell is a “sleepaway summer camp” on 100 verdant acres in Newbury, Vermont and campers enjoy a variety of activities including horseback riding and watersports on bucolic  Halls Lake.

Last summer, four students from Manchester Public Schools each spent three or four weeks at the camp thanks to the philanthropy of the Manchester Rotary Club.

“We’re all in this club to give back,” said Marty Fins, a past Rotary president whose involvement now includes overseeing the summer camp initiative, which dates back 12 years.

Fins noted the the Rotary Club motto is “service before self” and said that members enjoy giving youngsters the chance to enjoy a first-rate summer camp experience.

Joan Charnas, an assistant principal at Washington Elementary, oversees the program for the district and is involved in selecting students -- a process that unfolds each spring when she asks fourth- and fifth-grade teachers for a list of girls who put forth good effort with academics, are independent with a strong sense of self, are open to new experiences and are good citizens who contribute to their school community. That leads to discussions, interviews and selections.

Megan McGuire, who’s now in fifth grade at Washington, said her favorite activity at camp was vaulting on horseback -- which had her literally doing backflips and other contortions while riding a horse.  Equestrian vaulting, as it’s known, is rare in the U.S. but more common in Europe and thus familiar to some of the international students who stay at Camp Farwell.

Morgan Zalcman, now in eighth grade at Illing, said making friends from far away was among her favorite memories. She said she is still keeping in touch with girls she met from Switzerland, London and New York.

Caytlyn McLaughlin, now a seventh-grader at Illing, said she enjoyed horseback riding and archery. She noted that her mother “cried when I left” but her mom, Leanne, said she got over it -- in part because she is busy enough with her other five children ages 5-16.

As for Kirstin Johnson, now a fifth-grader at Washington, “I liked it all.”

The four girls and their parents were invited to a Rotary Club dinner meeting at Manchester Country Club on Tuesday (10-4) to mingle with Rotarians. They also had a chance to reminisce a bit about their memorable summer.

“It was so much fun,” said Morgan.

Manchester Public Schools 45 North School St, Manchester, CT 06042

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