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Memories of the Fresh Air Fund

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

One of my top memories that inspired my love for travel

In our kickoff episode 1 of Live Let Roam, I mentioned that as a kid I got to spend a few summers with a family through the Fresh Air Fund. I wanted to share some stories about why the experience inspired my love for travel.

What is the Fresh Air Fund?

"The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit youth development organization, has provided free life-changing summer experiences in the outdoors to more than 1.8 million children from New York City’s underserved communities." - Learn about us section of The Fresh Air Fund website.

Through the Fresh Air Fund program, I visited upstate NY with the same family every summer from the age of 5 years old to about 8 or 9 for about a week. My sister, who was 2 years older than me attended with another family.

City kid in Suburbia

The picture above is me (center) playing dress-up with my fresh air fund sister (blond left of me) and some neighborhood kids. It was the 1980's so my outfit is on point. Lots of what I experienced would seem so regular and routine to most folks. A lemonade stand, camping, bean bag race, miniature golf, and riding a pony.

My favorite memory was of camping. We went a couple of summers but that is where I got to ride a pony for the first time. We sat around a campfire listening to stories and going on hikes. I went swimming in a lake for the first time and jumped off a dock. As a kid that grew up steps from the ocean, I only swam in the big waves of the Rockaways. My knowledge of lakes was from the "Friday the 13th" movie, so yes, pretty scary to me. These things, so seemingly ordinary, are special to a kid that grew up in a big city. I love going camping and on hikes to this day and when I do it I feel like a kid once again exploring new things.

Among the normality of suburbia to bring culture shock. I remember getting talked to by my Fresh Air Fund parents, especially in the first few years, because of my language. As a child in New York City in the 80s, my cussing language was well versed even at around 5 years old. We had regular meals, snacks and didn't go to bed hungry. Although I still can't stand butter on my bread when making ham and cheese sandwiches.

Lasting Memories

At the end of every summer, my Fresh Air Fund family would send a set of pictures to my home of our adventures. These I treasured because they showed me from a young age that there was a life outside of what I was seeing in the city around me. I just had to be curious and determined about exploring it.

About the author: Christy is an artist/creative spirit & podcaster with a passion for many things especially the arts, nature, and weird things around the world.

#christy #episode1 #liveletroam

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