By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

WYNNEWOOD – Recession-weary parents who wonder if they can afford to send their children to summer camp need not worry.

“Camp Overbrook is the best deal in town,” said Kathleen Pfeffer, coordinator of the summer day camp sponsored by the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adults (OYYA).

At $25 per child per week, the camp for 6- to-12-year-olds is in session Monday through Friday on the sprawling campus of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood. Breakfast and lunch are provided by the Archdiocese’s Nutritional Development Services.

The camp is open to Catholic and non-Catholic children across the Archdiocese. Campers may attend two of the five-week sessions.

“Camp Overbrook provides a safe and nurturing program for children who may not ordinarily have the resources to attend summer camp,” Pfeffer said.

Camp is held rain or shine. Actually, “It never rains at Camp Overbrook – it’s only liquid sunshine,” said Pfeffer.

Arts and crafts, cultural immersion projects, music, reading, story telling, sports and skits are among the many camp offerings.

“It’s really fun – it’s so alive there,” said 13-year-old Heather Wood, an eighth-grader at St. Dominic School and member of St. Timothy Parish. “It doesn’t have one dull moment in it.”

Running through sprinklers, sliding on water slides, singing songs, reading books and performing skits have been among her favorite camp activities.

Heather’s only complaint is that because of Camp Overbrook’s age requirements, last summer was her final year as a camper there.

This summer, Camp Overbrook celebrates 44 years of serving youngsters. “Camp Overbrook continues to be a jewel in the crown of the Archdiocese,” said John J. Tague, director of OYYA.

A camp goal is to help the children discover their inspanidual uniqueness and to grow in their appreciation of themselves and others as “gifted and loved inspaniduals and children of God,” Tague added.

Pfeffer is assisted by 15 adults who lead classes and coordinate activities. They are assisted by 40 high school students who are trained through OYYA to serve as camp counselors.

Tony Newton, a sophomore at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, said he learned valuable leadership skills when he became a camp counselor last summer. He encouraged the campers to find fun in all that they do and to always look for a learning experience in their activities.

A member of St. Martin de Porres Parish in North Philadelphia, Newton got a kick out of the fun a group of campers had when they challenged Newton and three other counselors to a friendly game of soccer.

Tabitha Scapanda, a senior at Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, will serve as camp counselor for the fourth consecutive year this summer. “I love kids,” said Scapanda, a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Drexel Hill.

Being a camp counselor is serious business, she said. “I have a whole week of their summer in my hands.”

Scapanda said her experience as a camp counselor is certain to help her in the fall when she heads to college to major in elementary and middle education; it may also help her one day as a teacher. “In a classroom setting, I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned – how to discipline a child, how to praise a child,” she said.

Pfeffer is amazed by how the campers come into their own by camp’s end.

“When the campers come off the bus for the first time, some of them are scared, some of them cry, some are very quiet,” Pfeffer said.

And they don’t know the camp songs.

But by the end of camp, the youngsters are smiling and laughing and singing the songs by heart on the bus ride home.

And they begin to count the days they have to wait until camp is back in session the following summer.

At Camp Overbrook, “you’ll never be bored,” assures Heather Wood.

For more information, call the Office for Youth and Young Adults at (215) 965-4636 or visit the web site, then click the icon “Camp Overbrook.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or