The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

July 10, 2014

Fresh Air visitor rides at Knoebels, plays mini golf

— VALLEY TWP. — J’den Golding says he enjoyed everything about his experiences as a Fresh Air child in the area.

This was the first time he visited the area through the program.

He went two other years to stay with a Fresh Air family in New Jersey, according to hosts Fred and Becky Shappell, of Valley Township.

Volunteer host families share their summers for up to two weeks with Fresh Air children, ages 6 to 18.

J’den is among 24 inner city kids who will spend time with host families in Columbia and Montour counties this summer. J’den returned home to Brooklyn, N.Y., on Tuesday.

Another group of children will arrive July 18 and will stay with families until July 28.

Some of the youngsters who arrived July 1 with J’den will stay until July 15.

Fred Shappell taught J’den to fly a kite which was something he had never done before.

They visited Knoebels Amusement Resort twice. The New York visitor enjoyed riding bumper and racing cars. He got to play miniature golf at Tee to Green.

J’den also played soccer and saw miniature horses at a nearby farm. He said he has seen miniature horses before. He also swam at an area pool and at Lake Jean.

They went to the July 4th parade at Millville and saw fireworks later. He said he didn’t eat the candy he collected at the parade and was planning to take it home.

The Shappells and J’den were among 85 people who attended a Fresh Air families picnic Sunday at Ricketts Glen State Park.

“Families get to meet each other and J’den played with kids from other families,” Fred Shappell said.

J’den has some trees and grass at home but not nearly as much as where he was staying the past week. “Here there’s no traffic. There is so much traffic in New York,” he said.

J’den, who will be entering fourth grade, said his favorite subject is math.

“I like to keep score in miniature golf,” he said. He also enjoyed adding numbers in the game Yahtzee.

He comes from a family of three brothers and three sisters ranging from 6 to 21. The youngest three are at home. His 6-year-old brother participated in a Fresh Air program for the first time this summer on Long Island.

His 13-year-old sister is attending a Fresh Air camp.

“You wouldn’t believe the Michael Jackson dancing he does,” Fred Shappell said.

J’den actually won money at a dance contest in Queens for his dance skills.

Fred oversees what are known as the Bloomsburg, Sunbury and Lewisburg Friendly Towns of the Fresh Air Program. Fred is chairperson of the Sunbury Friendly Town and Becky is chairperson of the Bloomsburg Friendly Town.  

They have been Fresh Air hosts for nine years.

Becky Shappell said they are looking for families to serve as hosts for children next year. For information, visit www.freshair.org or call the Shappells at 570-764-3307.

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency providing free summer experiences for more than 1.8 million New York City children since 1877. Each summer, more than 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small towns in 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.

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