Kent School and Mercersburg Academy Host Longest Ever SEA Summer Camps

From July 8 to August 1, 20 of SEA’s middle school students participated in the Summer Academy, a new, intensive four-week camp that took place in Kent, Connecticut. SEA’s longest summer experience to date, the camp provided highly motivated and engaged seventh and eight graders with the opportunity to improve their squash game and fitness skills, work on math, reading, and writing, and connect with peers from across the country. 

With the majority of students having spent the year doing virtual schooling and limited in-person engagements, SEA was eager to create safe opportunities for participants in our network to return to the squash court and the classroom together. 

“What I’ve enjoyed most at camp is being able to meet new people, play squash, and have a lot of fun,” said Squash Haven participant Adiel. “Since it’s been a year due to Covid, getting back on the court, getting my muscles activated…it’s been really fun for me.”

We were fortunate to host the program at Kent School, allowing our group to create a Covid-free pod. Our students slept in the dorms, ate in the dining hall, trained in Kent’s eight-court squash facility, and enjoyed time outside on the beautiful rural campus. As a part of the academic curriculum, students read and discussed Jason Reynold’s novel Ghost and had daily humanities and math lessons.

CitySquash alumnus and incoming Chatham University varsity coach Chris Fernandez led the squash training at Kent, with support from college players Sahari Lopez (Trinity) and Zachary Hollander (Dickinson). StreetSquash alumnus Raheem Logan served as Camp Director.  April Pendergast, Kent’s Learning Specialist and ELL Literature Instructor, and Randee Johnson, a math teacher at Booker T. Washington Middle School, oversaw the camp’s academic program.

The experience was made possible by our generous camp sponsor, the Robertson Foundation. SEA Board Member Sarah Robertson and her husband Spencer (pictured left with CitySquash student Boubacar) helped plan the camp and even paid a visit to Connecticut to see it in action. “The kids were having a terrific time, putting in a lot of effort, and getting the most out of every aspect of the camp,” Sarah said.

“SEA is deeply grateful to the Robertson family,” said SEA Executive Director Tim Wyant. “Sarah and Spencer were determined to make sure that SEA’s in-person programming would return this summer and that our students would have the opportunity to challenge themselves academically and athletically. They spent a full year working with us to design our camps and what resulted was extraordinary. In a time that has been defined by uncertainty, the Robertsons were unwavering.”

At the same time that the Summer Academy took place,  SEA ran a three-week camp for 18 high school students at Mercersburg Academy in southern Pennsylvania. While on campus, the group trained twice daily with PSA Player Mark Broekman and had reading and writing classes. The group read Angie Thomas’s novel The Hate U Give and Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi. 

The Mercersburg camp was led with help from SEA alumni Victoria Haghighi, Quinlan Jeudy, and Dubois Stewart, SEA Director of Equity and Opportunity Monete Johnson, and  Todd McGuire, an English teacher and soccer coach at Mercersburg.

“After a 16 month hiatus, it was refreshing and inspiring to see SEA students back on the squash court training, learning, having fun, and making everlasting bonds,” said SEA’s Director of Squash Edgardo Gonzalez, who oversaw the planning and execution of both experiences. “The Summer Academy and Mercersburg Camp were uncharted territories for SEA but created an extraordinary opportunity like no other for the students in our network. I look forward to SEA having similar camps in the future that will only become bigger and better.”

Many thanks to the Robertson Foundation and everyone in the Kent and Mercersburg communities who helped make the camps possible!