The following is from Metro YMCA of the Oranges:
Colleen Falconer first attended Fairview Lake YMCA Camps the summer before ninth grade, and was immediately taken. “It’s such a beautiful property, and it lets you immerse yourself in a surrounding that’s very different from what most of us are usually around,” the 17-year-old said. “But my favorite part is who it turns you into.”
At Fairview Lake Y, “people try things out of their comfort zone,” Falconer said. During her two summers of sleepaway camp in the Y’s Camp Laurel Ridge for girls, the Maplewood resident learned to sail and took the “Leap of Faith” — a 30-foot jump off a pole (with a safety harness).
As a counselor-in-training last summer, Falconer shared her enthusiasm with campers, and was selected as a “Brave” in the two-day Color War team competition, cheering her team to victory.
“Her passion for Fairview Lake Y, her kindness to others, and her leadership of peers” made Falconer the obvious choice for the Y’s 2016 Youth of the Year Award, said Jeremy Culpepper, director of summer programs at Fairview Lake Y. Falconer was honored last night at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ 40th annual recognition dinner, held at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. Fairview Lake Y is one of six branches of the Metro YMCA, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.
Falconer said the counselors at Fairview Lake Y are excellent role models. “They’re kind, funny and unapologetically themselves,” she said. “They helped me become more outgoing and happy with myself.”
Camp Laurel Ridge helps girls value themselves and each other. “There’s a strong current of feminism and empowerment,” Falconer said.
Falconer, a junior at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, said she enjoys working with children and looks forward to returning to Fairview Lake Y as a junior counselor this summer.