The Fresh Air Fund has announced registration is open for Bronx children to apply to attend CAMP JUNIOR, a new camp in Harriman State Park. In memory of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, 15-year-old victim of gang violence, The Fresh Air Fund in partnership with New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and the Bronx Borough President will welcome children from Bronx to Camp Junior for Summer 2019.
The Fresh Air Fund is welcoming families with children, ages 9 to 13, who live in the Bronx to register for free sleepaway camp for this summer. The goal is to serve 500 children in Summer 2019, with a thousand for Summer 2020. Information sessions and application assistance will be provided at events held with Bronx community partners.
Each year, since 1877, thousands of Fresh Air Fund children from low-income communities throughout New York City enjoy outdoor summer adventures through five overnight camps in Fishkill, NY and visit with volunteer host families along the East Coast and Southern Canada. Over the past 140 years, more than 1.8 million New York City children have benefitted from Fresh Air experiences.
Fatima Shama, Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund, said, “Thanks to New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Bronx Borough President for our partnership and their commitment to Camp Junior. We are proud and honored to operate Camp Junior in Harriman State Park and be partners in providing opportunities for young people to experience new activities and joys, and provide alternatives to gang activities. I want to extend our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and offer gratitude to his parents for sharing their son’s legacy in this very special way.”
Acting State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with The Fresh Air Fund to build upon Harriman State Park’s long tradition of providing outdoor engagement for children from underserved communities. Rehabilitating Camp Junior will revitalize our youth camp program and continue the mission of investing in our youth by offering a safe, positive recreation environment to learn and explore.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “Camp Junior will provide hundreds of Bronx children with an amazing summer experience, and I am proud to have partnered with The Fresh Air Fund and the New York State Department of Parks to make this program a reality. Junior was everything we want our children to be. He was a good student and a member of the NYPD Explorers. He was kind to his parents and his neighbors. His candle was dimmed too soon, but he can be a shining light for generations. Starting this summer, we will give hundreds of Bronx kids a chance to learn by his example. I encourage Bronx parents to register their children for Camp Junior and take advantage of this program.”
New York Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie said, “For decades The Fresh Air Fund has provided new experiences and outdoor adventures for children from low-income communities across New York City. The opening of registration for Camp Junior at Harriman State Park marks the continuation of a legacy of leadership and growth. It will also memorialize the life of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, a child taken from this world too soon. By creating facilities like that of Camp Junior, we are introducing outlets that will positively impact our communities while also discouraging gang violence.”
The Fresh Air Fund would like to give special thanks to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for his leadership in ensuring more opportunities are available for children from the Bronx, and thank outgoing New York State Commissioner for Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Rose Harvey for her leadership and support, and whose vision made this project become a reality. We thank Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. for his partnership and commitment to children and families from the Bronx in realizing Camp Junior, and to New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, we thank you for your support and investment in our young people from Bronx.
We want to thank our partners who provided great guidance and legal counsel throughout the process including Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; Lawyers Alliance for New York; and King & Spaulding LLP.
About The Fresh Air Fund
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each summer, thousands of children visit volunteer host families along the East Coast and Southern Canada and at The Fund’s five overnight camps in Fishkill, New York. Fresh Air children also participate in year-round leadership and educational programs.