Our Family's Experience Hosting Fresh Air Fund Children
by Christy Bunkoff
We have been a host family for the Fresh Air Fund for 4 years now. We host 2 girls each year at different times and we have a wonderful time when they are here. The girls get to experience things they might not get the opportunity to experience in their New York city life. It's a blessing in return for our family, as we get to see the excitement in their eyes and the way they truly light up when they are engaged in an activity. We get in touch with the girls through the spring and we ask them what the would like to do in their upcoming visit during the summer. You can hear the joy in their voices as they anticipate their 'vacation' time here.
It truly is the littlest things that really excite the girls. We always go to the grocery store to let them pick out some special things. . . . they don't have BIG grocery stores with the selections we have here in the suburbs. They usually go to a little 'mart at the corner for their needs. So picking out some special treats their first day is always a great way to start their vacation time. Some of the 'firsts' they have had here with us are: camping in a tent in the back yard, a drive-in theater experience, swimming in a pool, boating, fishing, making s'mores by a campfire, and riding a horse. These are all very simple things....but they are a BIG DEAL to the girls. Of course, they also enjoy other, more elaborate events like, going to Great Escape for the day, visiting Hoffman's Playland, East Greenbush's FunPlex...all these are great experiences for the girls as well. Many local attractions offer Fresh Air Children Free tickets or entrance for FREE, so it's not a great financial burden.
When I asked my daughter Emma, "What is the best thing about having our Fresh Air girls come?" she responded, "I love seeing them smile and laugh when we do fun things." I think that says it simply. We find joy in sharing our world with them. What a great experience for all of us. We hope to be able to host for years to come. The experience of hosting a child through the Fresh Air Program truly changes everyone for the better. I would encourage everyone to challenge their families to host a child at least one summer. It will make a huge difference to a child, and your whole family will benefit from the experience as well.