QUEST summer camps moving to new communitiesBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent July 22. 2014 7:35PM
RINDGE — QUEST, a free summer camp for middle school children, started by Jaffrey and Rindge Rotarians is slowly spreading from its start at Franklin Pierce University four years ago to other communities.
This summer the Peterborough Rotary Club held a QUEST summer camp as did members of the Rotary Club in Ludlow, Vermont.
QUEST stands for Quality Unlimited Education Summer Training. The camp mixes academics with fun activities.
“I look forward to it every summer,” said Nicci Munroe, 14, of Rindge.
The camp is for fifth to eighth grade students.
In her fourth year, Nicci said the camp has helped her stay on top of school during the year and has taught her leadership, responsibility and respect.She has also made friends.
“Socially it helps you. You come out of your shell,” she said.The idea for QUEST came out of a desire by the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary Club members to better serve the Rotary mission of community service, co-chair of the camp Tonya Albee said Tuesday.
Rotary members FPU president Jaimie Birge and SAU #47 Superintendent James O'Neill brought up the issue of “the summer slide,” the term used to describe when students lose math and reading skills over summer vacation.
Albee had always gone to camp in the summertime as a child and was horrified to learn from the educators that a number of children don’t get that opportunity.
The community has a lot of needs, but this need resonated with the Rotarians, she said.
The goal of QUEST is to give the children a summer camp experience as well as math and English classes at no charge, Albee said.
“We’re just trying to make sure there’s no summer slide for those two core subjects,” Albee said.
Activities include music, swimming, kayaking and canoe trips, tree climbing, horseback riding, basic flying and historic bus tours.
Jaffrey-Rindge QUEST is a partnership between the Rotarians which raise $30,000 each year for the camp as well as run and volunteer at the camp, FPU which provides the location and some staff and the school district which provides teachers for the morning academic sessions.
There are also local experts that volunteer their time like Pelletier Sports in Jaffrey, which sends archery instructors to QUEST camp.
“There’s a lot of volunteers that come in,” Albee said.
The school chooses the children who can participate based on who they deem could benefit the most.
Albee said she has seen QUEST campers go from D students to A students and from shy to brave.
It’s a model any community could emulate, Albee said.
“These are kids would be typically sitting at home doing nothing,” Albee said.
Over the past two years, the Jaffrey-Rindge Rotary Club has been honored by the New England Board of Higher Education and Rotary International for the QUEST program.
And club members are reaching out to other Rotary clubs encouraging them to start their own QUEST camps.
“We want to make sure very town has this program,” Albee said. “Any town could run one of these. Every town has kids and every town has volunteers. It doesn’t have to be a Rotary Club, but Rotary is a resource full of professionals.”