In 2015, NYSOEA decided to name the scholarship, or “campership”, to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) summer camps in honor of a long time member of the Association who passed away. The Brother Yusuf Burgess Campership was awarded to two students this summer.
Brother Yusuf was a founding member of NYSOEA’s Diversity Committee and the coordinator of the DEC’s Capital District Campership Diversity Program. Naming the campership in honor of his legacy was a perfect fit, especially since it is the responsibility of NYSOEA’s Diversity Committee to choose the campership recipients. Brother Yusuf believed that “Many of today’s children are growing up in busy cities without parks or ‘special places’ to experience the beautiful and awe inspiring. They stand to lose a very important part of what it is to be human.” NYSOEA’s Diversity Committee is looking for ways to get more citizens outdoors experiencing and enjoying nature.
Each camper was asked to send some information about their experience. Alexis was happy to make new friends and enjoyed campfire stories. Cody learned lots of cool stuff about the environment. O’dane describes;” In camp they let us make decisions on what we wanted to do. The camp has broadened my horizons and it has put me out of my comfort zone. The camping experience was scary but fun.” Kevin had this to say about camp. ”I learned new things like the three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle). This means to take less, use less, take your garbage and turn it into something else useful, and let your garbage be turned into more things to buy. I also learned tips for hiking (like putting down the heel of your foot then your front and always be prepared for anything) and tips for life. I learned to look after myself without my parents. I knew people there but also met new ones.” Jason’s message is real and from the heart “I live in Newburgh, New York. Summers are usually boring and the streets are loud and dangerous. This experience gave me a chance to get away and relax for a while.”
Funds for the campership are through various sources: direct donations during NYSOEA’s spring Annual Appeal and fall Annual Conference; sales of baked goods and waffles at Sharpe Reservation’s Maple Celebration; and raffle sales at NYSOEA’s Winter Weekend which has been held the last couple of years at Taconic Outdoor Education Center. Both the Maple Celebration and Winter Weekend are events in NYSOEA’s Eastern Region. The Diversity Committee would like to invite the other NYSOEA Regions to consider similar activities at their regional events to help send more campers and increase the endowment so that the interest will sustain our campership contributions and allow for more participants as time goes on.