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Woodside campers dance with Crowley

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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) visited a summer camp for Woodside elementary school students Friday where he delivered school supplies, danced to Spanish music and showed off his drumming skills.

“It really is an enriching environment,” Crowley said of the program. “[The students] were all well-adjusted and learning and having fun.”

The free camp, which is made possible by a city grant from the Outside of School Time Program, is run by Maspeth Town Hall, at 53-37 72nd St., said Eileen Reiloy, director of the hall. The camp is available to students of PS 12, at 42-00 72nd St. in Woodside, but it is housed in Maspeth’s PS 153, at 60-02 60th Lane, this year.

Reiloy said the camp runs for seven weeks from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. At the camp, students participate in multiple activities such as learning how to play the drums, dancing and making arts and crafts and participating in a book club. Some blocks of time are set aside for the children to play games. The students are also sometimes visited by special instructors in art, soccer or use of computers.

“Mom and Dad can go to work every day and know that their children are in a safe learning environment,” Reiloy said.

Vijay Chaudhuri, who works at Crowley’s office, said this is the eighth year Maspeth Town Hall has run the camp.

Crowley said the program was important because working parents cannot always afford to send their children to summer camp.

“To be in a program like this is really special,” Crowley said.

The congressman stopped by many of these classes, asking the students about what they were working on and watching them play games. Crowley at one point played the drums for the students, and later danced with the teacher in the dancing class.

At the end of his visit, Crowley also distributed bags reading “Joe Crowley, Our Hardworking Congressman” full of school supplies to the students. These supplies included markers, a pencil box, pencils, pens, erasers, glue, two folders, a notebook and a ruler.

Chaudhuri said Crowley paid for the bags out of his campaign funds, and the congressman plans to do at least one additional school supplies giveaway this year.

“Any little bit helps in making sure that kids are prepared for learning,” Crowley said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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