By Samantha SLAYBACK
alling all spies! You have an important mission awaiting you this summer at Spy Camp. Spy Camp is taking place from July 20-24 and is looking to recruit elementary school sleuths in the La Crescenta area.
Created by teens for younger children, Spy Camp has been going strong for several years increasing in popularity each year. Founders Samantha Rowley, Avery Barnes and Joanne (Annie) Blood were in elementary school themselves when their shared love of spy books and games led them to first join forces to create Spy Camp.
“Originally, the idea was to create a spy club, but because it was so close to summer, we thought it might be difficult to implement,” explained Rowley. “So instead, I had the idea to turn it from a spy club into a summer camp for younger kids.”
Rowley didn’t have high expectations for the project in the beginning, thinking it was just another idea that would never be put into action. But with parental help in that first year, their dream became a reality. While the girls’ parents helped with scheduling, advertising, budgeting and the necessary adult supervision for the camp, the girls handled the planning. They spent much of their time handing out fliers, planning activities and buying the necessary supplies.
That first year, they managed to recruit 13 girls. Early on, the camp had been exclusively for girls though that changed last year.
Over time the girls have become more and more independent in their endeavors.
“We’ve had the camp at Annie’s and Avery’s [houses] and my own house different years, and all have been wonderful years,” said Rowley.
Spy Camp President Rowley is now 17, Vice President Barnes is 15 and business is booming. Blood split from the original group to form a new camp with her younger sisters. Over the years several of the founders’ friends have helped the business grow. Katherine (Katie) White and Emily Richardson have assisted in past years, but Kaitlyn Hall and Samantha Ozeas have been the longest-standing helpers, and are now official camp counselors as of last year.
“It’s been so fun to see how we’ve grown and developed,” said Barnes. “The campers are always so excited to learn these new things and it has just been a great joy to teach them.”
Along with their growing business expertise, the girls’ client base and hours of operation have also expanded. The camp began as a Monday through Friday experience from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Since that first year, the hours were extended from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and currently costs $75 to attend for the week. All funds collected go first towards supplies needed for activities, then whatever is left is split between the counselors for their hard work.
“I spend much of my time from November to July planning out Spy Camp and I’ve never gotten tired of it,” said Rowley. “The kids are so fun and I love getting to become their friend as well as their counselor.”
A typical day at camp starts with drop-off and check-in. Early arrivals are entertained with games until everyone has arrived. Once all campers are accounted for, they are split into groups based on their age, and the groups then rotate among various activities with different counselors.
“We do our best to have something creative and something active every day,” said Rowley. “And of course we try to make it all as fun as possible!”
Registration is still open for this summer’s Spy Camp. To sign up or learn more information, visit spycamp.weebly.com.