By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)–Three decades ago a teacher at Notre Dame Prep in Towson came up with a great idea.

As Mike Schuh reports, what he did still has kids from two different cultures learning from each other.

It’s a big day at Notre Dame Prep. It’s Swim Test Day.

“It’s Camp Umoja, it’s Swahili, it means unity. We believe that every kid deserves a summer camp no matter where they’re from,” Steve Pomplon.

50 kids are here from housing authority homes in west Baltimore.  Few knew how to swim before this camp.

“When you get here you can have fun, and you have counselors who go with you and go around and stuff, go on nature walks and we get to swim,” said Aniyna Hood.

The morning swim class and the afternoon free swim are the favorite times. And, there is a bond here  as each camper is assigned a counselor.

Aniyna says, “I have the same counselor as last year, Claire.”

That would be NDP junior Claire Fitzgerald.

“Where we grow up are really different environments, but that hasn’t stopped us from connecting. And all our differences, you don’t even think about them during camp,” Fitzgerald says.

“They nice to you and they cheer you up sometimes when you’re sad and yesterday I couldn’t get in the pool because of a cold sore and we had other ways to be occupied and we play games and we sat up there and played Connect 4,” said Aniyna.

“I learned to appreciate so much. I have noticed that sometimes if Aniyna is upset about something she always bounces back so quickly, she gets hurt; we’re back jump roping in like ten minutes. And I’ve learned to be so much more positive about things from her,” said Fitzgerald.

“And so you see throughout the two weeks everybody open up and start to really get into the experience  and the last day which we’re about to have here tomorrow,” Pomplon said.  “A lot of tears are shed, lot of emotions. It’s beautiful.”

30 years, 3,000 kids with summers to remember.

Throughout the year monthly field trips  are organized by the camp to get everyone back together again for a day of activities.


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