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Brooklyn siblings return to Fresh Air Fund summer camp as counselors after positive childhood memories [Story 4]

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From gardening to taking the plunge to getting up close and personal with farm animals, there's no shortage of what children can do to have fun, grow and make friends  at any one of the Fresh Air Fund's five camps in Fishkill, New York.

“Without this I don’t know what our summers would have been like,” Mustapha Olatilewa remembered.

Web extra: More information and FAQs about the Fresh Air Fund

Campers even get a taste of what good nutrition is all about and learn the important of staying safe.

And being by the lake brings back vivid memories for 24-year-old Mustapha Olatilewa.

“At camp they have us take swim tests to see how well we swim," he said. "I never swam before so I got in the water and I basically failed and the lifeguard came down and saved me and he said don’t worry you’re going to learn how to swim.”

Web extra: Mustapha Olatilewa talks parents coming to BK from Nigeria

Mustapha, his 21-year-old brother Ridwan and 17-year-old sister Zainob caught the fresh air bug years ago as campers. Now, these siblings from Brooklyn are back as counselors.

"He it's much more quiet, we see trees, we see green every time we wake up in the morning compared to the city," Ridwan described. "[In NYC] we don't ever see that, it's just straight concrete."

They do remember getting off to a rough start though.

Web extra: Zainob Olatilewa explains why she came back as a counselor

“It was really hard, I’d never been away from home, so it was like a complete different change," Zainob said. "I didn’t want to be here at all.”

“My first summer, I didn’t really speak much, didn’t really interact with everyone else, I was just doing my own thing,” Ridwan explained.

But their mom encouraged them to stick it out and wow, are they glad they did!

“I definitely started to get more and more skills that I need like public speaking and different things like that that’s helped me to grow,” Ridwan said.

"With camp as help, I have a higher level of confidence,” Zainob said.

Web extra: Ridwan Olatilewa describes practical skills he learned as a camper

A giving back came naturally for all three.

“Counselors are the people we look up to when we’re campers," Mustapha said. "I want to make sure I have the same type of impact on the kids who come through here.”

 

Related: Two NYC kids prepare for Fresh Air Fund summer trip of a lifetime [Story 1]

Related: NJ families welcome NYC kids into their homes and hearts during the summer [Story 2]

Related: Outdoor activities give two NYC kids a real Fresh Air Fund experience [Story 3]

Related: City kids and host families reflect on Fresh Air Fund trips and start countdown to next summer [Story 5]

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi