The article appeared in the Huntingdon Daily News on July, 17 2018. This article was written by form SMA Camper Molly Biddle:
"Stone Mountain Adventures (SMA) summer camp, nestled in Donation, Oneida Township, has had a long tradition of hosting international campers and counselors since the mid-1980s.
The camp, founded by Pam and Biff Houldin and now run by their son, Jud Millar, brings teenage campers, 12-16 years old, from all over the country and all over the world to water ski on Raystown Lake and hike the Thousand Steps, among other activities. The camp has hosted international campers from about a dozen countries, including Colombia, Peru, Italy, Spain, and France, but, this summer marks a new first.
SMA recently partnered with Vietnamese International Camping (VIC Vietnam), a summer program that sends Vietnamese teenagers to a variety of countries for short-term visits and cultural exchanges.
The Millar family had visited areas of Vietnam on a family trip two years ago. Jud Millar saw the VIC program as an opportunity to expand the reach of the camp, which has hosted campers primarily from Europe and South America.
“As we were traveling, I had brought literature about Stone Mountain Adventures,” Millar explained, adding he would leave the materials at tourist centers and other areas throughout the Southeast Asian country.
The director of VIC Vietnam saw these flyers while traveling and quickly contacted SMA.
“He was looking for an American summer camp connection,” said Millar. “While it took some time to work out all of the details, this summer, VIC Vietnam sent three high school students, Cao, Moon and Lan, along with a group leader, a college student named Cici, from the country’s capital, Hanoi.
Currently enjoying their second of two weeks in the U.S., the Vietnamese campers have had a hybrid experience, spending time with other SMA campers by participating in activities such as rock climbing and horseback riding while also going on trips to visit American cities including New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C."
Molly went on to write:
When asked about their favorite activities, Vietnamese students seemed to have enjoyed elements of both rural and urban life in the U.S., citing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the Isett Heritage Museum outside of Huntingdon as two highlights of the trip so far.
Through the mix of camp activities and city-based tourist activities, the VIC Vietnam campers have been able to gain cultural knowledge of both rural and urban areas of the U.S., in addition to interacting with their American peers in their cabins and during activities, an experience Millar considers valuable, especially to those who are working toward English fluency.
Fortunately this cultural exchange flows in both directions. Millar mentioned that the American and the other international campers are learning from the Vietnamese delegation who were sharing experiences and currently in the process of “preparing a traditional Vietnamese dance and song for a talent show.
The program is the first of its kind for SMA. While other international campers are completely integrated into camp life, this Vietnamese group is only partially integrated into camp life. Millar believes that such an arrangement suits this group well, as it gives them greater variety in experiences.
While Millar admits developing the program “is kind of an experiment,” he hopes to see it continue.
“If all goes as planned, there will be a group of Vietnamese students from VIC Vietnam at camp next year,” he said.
SMA has long exposed people from all over the world to the natural beauty and exciting possibilities offered in Huntingdon, and with the continued expansion of their programs, even more people will learn about the many opportunities central Pennsylvania has to offer.