Each year, thousands of children enjoy outdoor summer adventures through visits with volunteer host families along the East Coast.
Families anxiously await the arrival of children making their way on a charter bus from New York City. This is through The Fresh Air Fund. The main mission of this non-profit organization is to allow children from the city to experience life in the country.
“They just get excited to have a new visitor. You know, it’s like having a friend over for a sleepover and they get excited to see them and have them come and stay with them and just share their life with them. Share their experiences and things that they like to do,” said Sonya Morgan, Fund Representative.
Host families are from Allegheny and Garret County Maryland along with Monongalia and Mineral Counties from West Virginia. The Bucy’s are hosting a child for their third year.
“We’re really excited, she had a great time learning how to ride a bike and she strengthened her swimming skills just I think really enjoyed the break that she got from city life,” said Christy Bucy, host.
Children take part in many activities that they often don’t get to do in the city.
“They all want to swim. They all can’t wait to swim. So that’s one of the favorite things I think the kids enjoy when they come is getting to swim and they get excited about sharing their pictures on the way back home on the bus. We always encourage our host families to take pictures with them while they’re here so that they can take those back with them and share their experiences with their families and friends,” said Sonya Morgan.
The process of becoming a host family begins with a home interview and an application, along with a background check. Families can select whether they would like to host a boy or girl and what age group, from 7 to 12. The children can return to the host families all the way up to the age of 18.
“The experience has been great. The kids coming from New York City. It’s just great to get them out in the country and our kids really enjoy the time with them and getting to have a friend or Levi, our youngest says he has three sisters now, with Whitney that comes to stay with us,” said Stephen Bucy, host.
Kids stay anywhere from one week to six weeks with their host family over the summer. To become a host family you inquire with your local representative or visit www.freshair.org.