Counselors of Week Six enjoy helping kids create


Mallory Samonia, RaeKel Helman and Alicia Hardenburg earned Counselors of the Week. Photo by Ellie Haugsby.

Patrick Hosken | Staff Writer

Throughout the season, campers at Boys’ and Girls’ Club experience a wide range of activities. They can jump into Chautauqua Lake and learn to swim, head out on sailboats or explore the natural areas of the nearby ravine and more — all in a day.

Another popular Club pursuit often is an understated one: arts and crafts.

Crafts counselors Mallory Samonia, RaeKel Helman and Alicia Hardenburg earned the Week Six “Counselors of the Week” award for their continued efforts to inspire Club campers to create.

Samonia, 22, leads her group of campers in grades one to four in assembling spaceships and animals from recycled materials. The tools at their disposal include egg cartons, yogurt containers and toilet paper rolls.

Samonia said she hopes her time spent working with Club campers will help prepare her for a career as an art teacher; she will begin student teaching next month in Pennsylvania.

“I think it’ll be a really good transition from this to student teaching,” Samonia said.

Helman, 22, specializes in lanyards — specifically, boondoggle, friendship bracelets and bead necklaces. She instructs Crafts 2 campers from fourth grade up to those in Student Athletic Club. In addition, the campers’ creations are for sale from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday and also from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It’s serious business, Helman said.

“There are kids that cry when they see that the lanyard room isn’t open to buy it,” she said. “It’s really traumatic.”

When some parents come in to purchase boondoggle for their kids, she said, even they get roped in to buy a lanyard or two. It might just be a sense of nostalgia, Helman said.

Hardenburg, 23, is working her fourth summer at Club and, like her fellow award-winner counselors, is pursuing a career in education. She said although she ended up a crafts counselor by chance, she wouldn’t trade it for any other job at Club.

“This is the best job at Club,” Hardenburg said. “You get to know all of the kids this way.”

Helman said she likes the variety of her job.

“You work with all of them, and you don’t have the same kids every single day doing the same stuff,” Helman.

The three crafts counselors also work with ceramics instructor Gary Whipple, who has worked at Club for 12 years. Whipple, an art teacher in Ripley, N.Y., also has two children who are currently Club campers.

Samonia, Helman and Hardenburg said they enjoy helping Club campers create every day.

After all, it’s not summer camp unless you fashion some cool boondoggle for yourself!