Governor Sununu Visits BEST Camp at Franklin Pierce
Aug 1, 2018
NH Governor Christopher T. Sununu visited the Rindge campus on Thursday, July 26 to speak with 90 middle school students attending the BEST camp, a partnership among Franklin Pierce University, the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary and the local SAU #47 school district. The Governor took the opportunity to meet with Franklin Pierce President Kim Mooney in her office, then engaged in a lively question-and-answer session with the campers in Marcucella Hall.
President Mooney said, “We are so pleased to have Governor Sununu visit our idyllic campus in Rindge to see the BEST camp in action. The strong partnership between Franklin Pierce University, the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary and the local school district provides critical benefits for families in our community and is a model for collaboration in communities across New Hampshire.”
In its eighth year, the BEST camp (formerly QUEST camp) has been recognized by Rotary International for its successful format and impact on the community. The Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary organizes and staffs the camp and fundraises to keep it affordable for families. The school district provides teachers for two hours of project-based academics each morning. Franklin Pierce provides the facilities for the camp, and many faculty and staff volunteer their time on logistics and activities.
Governor Sununu explained to the campers he was on a mission to learn what made BEST camp work so well, so it might be replicated to provide opportunities for kids and families in other New Hampshire communities. The campers eagerly shared their favorite activities - the high ropes course, Japanese drumming, “bows and arrows and spears,” flying an airplane, and of course, unlimited ice cream!
Many campers would have no place to go and nothing else to do during summer days without the BEST program. “A lot of these kids are being raised by single parents or grandparents,” said Tonya Albee, BEST chairperson at Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary, who has been instrumental in building the program since its inception. “The parents are very grateful. Some of the campers are homeless; many are food insecure and ask to take food home with them. The chefs in the dining hall take good care of them!”
Governor Sununu encouraged the campers to rise to the challenges they meet at camp and in life by keeping their focus on the positive outcomes and benefits that will result. He invited them to think like engineers when they encounter hardships in the world, and try to figure out ways to solve problems and make broken systems work.
Kayla Hansen, now a senior at Conant High School in Jaffrey, was a camper for three years, and has been a leader-in-training since then. She helps run activities and keep the campers engaged and on task. Kayla hopes to stay in New Hampshire for college and become a special ed teacher. She credits BEST camp with helping her overcome social awkwardness and make friends. “It’s taught me how to grow up and be a good role model for kids.”