Terry Casson-Ferguson, Community Health Worker

Parenting Coach, Community Educator, Gospel Singer (Soprano)

Best Dish to Cook: Macaroni and cheese

Tyrrell Ferguson, Junior Counselor, Camp FRESH

Howard High School Cosmetology Student, Drummer, Gospel Singer (Tenor)

Best Dish to Cook: Greens

Since 2007, more than 600 Wilmington young people have participated in Camp FRESH (Fresh Resources Everyone Should Have), a Community Health program designed to empower young people to help make positive changes in their communities. As the program has expanded over the years, one thing has remained the same: the calming presence of community health worker Terry Casson-Ferguson. She’s a caregiver who not only seems to know everyone who crosses her path, but their families and friends as well.

In the summer you can find her in the Camp FRESH kitchen, where she provides the meals for campers as part of her role as counselor. Year-round she supports other Community Health programs, including ChristianaCare’s school-based health centers.

Over the years, two of Casson-Ferguson’s own children have participated in Camp FRESH. This year her youngest son, Tyrrell Ferguson, joined the program as a junior counselor. Here she shares their experiences.

In 2007, I was working behind the scenes at Camp FRESH while my middle son Taylor was a camper. Later I became a counselor for Camp FRESH. Then I had the opportunity to work in the kitchen alongside [ChristianaCare dietitian] Mary Williams. I like preparing their food and putting the love in. That’s how we reach our kids – with love.

It’s not that I can cook in some fancy way. In fact, Tyrrell’s the cook in my house. He’s the one who loves to experiment. He always tells me, “Just add some seasoning – people need that.” He’s right and it smells good.

Here at Camp FRESH, our kids receive lunch, a snack and dinner. This summer we had a camper who is vegetarian and that was new for me. When I made her plate, I would draw a heart on it to show the love put in it and so the staff would know hers from the others. Well, I was out and when I came back, Renicia Cordero, the Camp FRESH coordinator, said: “I want you to know that she wanted to know where her heart was all last week.” I just do things like that.

Love and burned grilled cheese

I believe that the love makes a difference. And I think the kids can tell too. A couple of years ago, for some reason, I was making grilled cheese sandwiches and I burned them. I don’t know what I was thinking. And I was so embarrassed. But the kids loved it.

This year, they came down and said: “Ms. Terry, we heard about your burned grilled cheese. Are you going to make that for us?” Once week we did have a burned grilled cheese, or two.

‘Not just in the kitchen’

Ty and I didn’t know we were going to be in the kitchen together. Before, when he was a camper, he would go right down the hall with the others. So, this being together all the time is new for us. We do better here than we do at home. Here he says, “Mom, you’re in charge. You’re the manager.”

Mother and son are in the Camp FRESH kitchen together for the first time. Here he says, “Mom, you’re in charge. You’re the manager.”

The other day, he cooked chicken. He was pulling things out and putting on various seasonings. It took him all morning, and the kids ate it up. I wasn’t surprised — even our church family loves Tyrell’s “famous” collard greens.

I’m not just in the kitchen. Summertime is the time to meet everyone. We say Camp FRESH is about resources, not just the natural food.

As long as I can remember, I remember my mom being in the community. Growing up, it gave me a different perspective. That’s what she does, and I think I’m that person, too.

— Tyrrell Ferguson

We want our campers to have access to healthier resources that everyone should have as they grow up. They may know a peer who’s dealing with challenges, maybe experimenting with drugs, being sexually active or even a pregnancy, but we want them to know “this doesn’t have to be you.” It’s about what resources are available that they can use to help them grow healthier. That’s what this camp is about.

Helping is her thing

We hear from the parents that the kids talk about Camp FRESH. Just knowing that they’re home talking about us is positive. It means a lot, even if we had our days when things don’t go so right.

I’ve had days when I had to send kids home or call their parents and say they don’t know how to speak to us properly. If you put your child in my care, you know I’m going to treat them the same way I treat my child. They are going to be safe here at Camp FRESH.

I’ve been working in the community all my life. I’ve done numerous things besides Camp FRESH. I was a resource mother at the Perinatal Association of Delaware helping new moms learn about the resources available to them and their families. Here at ChristianaCare, I’ve been the lead for the Health Ambassadors program and the Moving Moms Forward program, working with the mothers and grandmothers of our Camp FRESH campers on self-care and other resources. That seems to be my thing – helping others to find resources that benefit them and their families.

I know it’s getting to be time for me to retire, but I like what I do. I’m not done yet. There’s still more love to give — Ms. Terry style.

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