Super Senior: Ellie Holsman

Published: Jul. 25, 2019 at 6:30 PM EDT
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At the Leicester Central School, it's all work on the outside. But inside, it's fun and games.

It's called Summer Alive. It's a five-week adventure day camp co-directed by Ellie Holsman, a diminutive 83-year-old who is a giant influence to the kid campers.

Ellie's teaching style could be described like a rocket: high-energy and elevating the kids to new heights.

"I think keeping going keeps you going," Ellie said.

The native of Central Massachusetts still has the same passion for teaching she did more than 50 years ago.

Reporter Joe: What's your favorite part of the day here?

Ellie Holsman: I really don't know, I like the whole day!

The other co-director is Nancy McGill. Both Nancy and Ellie are retired teachers who spent most of their careers at this very school, working together for so long they finish each other sentences.

"Ellie always sees the strengths of any person," Nancy said. "Ellie's about that."

Ellie and Nancy have been with the program for more than 20 years and hundreds of kids have gone through the summer camp. But both women have decided that this will be their last year.

Joe Carroll: Why do you want to leave?

Nancy McGill: It's just time.

Both say the camp, which serves kindergartners to sixth-graders from Leicester, Whiting and Sudbury, could use some fresh ideas.

"I'm sure I'm going to miss it. I'm sure I will because it's been a great deal of my life," Ellie said.

Dakota Counter-Spinner, 10, wishes they would stay.

"I hate to see them stop because I know how much they love doing this," Dakota said.

"Couple of the kids we had in camp are now grandparents of the kids," Ellie noted. "So it's been a long time."

Ellie says the area has a high level of poverty and many of these kid's families can't afford private summer camp.

Ellie Holsman: We say we don't refuse anyone.

Nancy McGill: We say sign up and we'll figure out to pay for it.

For five weeks, it's an escape where kids can just be kids.

"I hope that they feel that I've been a positive force in their lives and made them have fun," Ellie said.

Encouraging kids to expand their horizons and reach for the stars.

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