Printed from the Charlotte Observer -
Posted: Tuesday, May. 29, 2012

Top-ranked Camp Creekside, at Lincolnton YMCA, celebrates expansion, seeks aid

By Caroline McMillan
Published in: Summer Camp Fund
  • Want to go?

    The Lincoln County Family YMCA will unveil its Camp Creekside Outdoor Recreation Center from 1 to 3 p.m. June 2 at 1402 East Gaston St., Lincolnton. Open to the public, the event will include tours, family games, an inflatable slide and other activities.

  • Want to help?

    Donors contributed more than $77,000 in 2011, and the Summer Camp Fund would like to match that amount this year. Donate online at Click on the “Donate” button to contribute via PayPal. Or send donations to The Summer Camp Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, NC 28237-7269.

    Each week, the Observer will list Summer Camp Fund contributors. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, indicate it on the “for” line of the check. If you donate via PayPal and wish to be anonymous, email

  • More information

    Contributors to the Summer Camp Fund:

    Judith Cook, $50

    Anonymous, $100

    W.M. and Betty Reynolds, $25

    Steven Norman, $500

    Anonymous, $250

    Perry and Mary Diamaduros $100

    Anonymous, $100

    Sue Barnes, in memory of her uncle, Sam Lassiter, $200

    G.N. Fetner, $50

    The Webers, $500

    Anonymous, $300

    Anonymous, $75

    Anonymous, $30

    Patsy and Ronald Sheppard, $500

    Stephanie Dunn, $150

    Jane and Hugh McColl Jr., $250

    Maureen Coumas, $100

    Claudia and James Olsen, $50

    Margaret Somerall, $25

    With Occoneechee memories, $100

    Meredith Burns, $50

    Rachelle Wills, $25

    Ken and LaVerne Davis, $25

    Amy Richardson, $1,000

    Forrest Ranson, $100

    Edward Shephard, $75

    Kristen and Robert Bruton, $100

    Sandra Kelch, $200

    Anonymous, $100

    Richard Askew, $100

    Frank D. Raffa, $50

    Theresa Rouse, $25

    Anonymous, in honor of Dr. Maureen Ahern, $75

    Judy and Phillip Christopher, $100

    Bob Benner, $100

    Rosalyn K. Smith, $100

    Anonymous, $250

    Pamela and John MacNeill, $25

    Becky Boulware, $150

    Carol and Richard Crowell, $200

    Marion Lands, $100

    Patricia Savino, $30

    Jeanette Trecek, $200

    Anonymous, $200

    James & Deborah Burgess, $100

    In honor of Victor Reitz from Jerry Leonard, $100

    Ronald B. McLauchlin, $50

    Kerry and Ann Helms, $100

    Cynthia King, $125

    David Mitchell, in honor of Anna and Garrett Mitchell, $100

    Anonymous, $20

    Anonymous, $100

    Elliott Close, $250

    Anonymous, $100

    Mary S. Stokes, $100

    The Mele Family, $250

    Susan Durham, in honor of the children, $100

    Anonymous, $100

    Dorothy Hodges, $50

    Anna and Howard Pitt Jr., $100

  • Related Images

    It’s not big. It’s not on a lake. It doesn’t offer towering ziplines or kayaking.

    But at Camp Creekside, a day camp run by the Lincoln County Family YMCA, the amenities are secondary to the kinship.

    On that strip of land hugging a small creek, campers become like family.

    The hundreds of campers each summer range in age from kindergarten to high school and most come from low-income families. Campers can stay from one to 11 weeks.

    About 85 percent of the campers are there on scholarship, said Julie Foreman, senior family services director for the Lincoln County Family YMCA and the Sally’s YMCA. So this year, Camp Creekside applied to The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund, which will pay for 16 scholarships for one week of camp.

    Every day starts at an assembly with a devotion and prayer. Then the campers break into groups. They swim, play games, do scavenger hunts and crafts.

    Because a majority of campers are in the free-and-reduced lunch program at school, Lincoln County Schools provides a daily breakfast and lunch.

    Camp Creekside also offers speciality camps for basketball, flag football, dance and cheer, and nature exploration, among other activities.

    To measure effectiveness, the YMCA tried to gauge camp loyalty, said Andy Calhoun, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.

    Camp families were asked to measure on a scale of 1 to 10 how likely they were to recommend the camp. Of the 300 YMCA summer camps in the greater Charlotte area, Camp Creekside’s scored the highest.

    “People just really love this camp,” Calhoun said. “It’s just a positive, encouraging environment, which some of these kids just really need.”

    Seven years ago, Lincolnton High senior Lance Friday walked into the Lincoln County YMCA to inquire about counselor openings.

    Watching the video about Camp Creekside, “my face broke into a big smile,” Friday said. “It sounded like something I could do.”

    Friday, now 24 and a senior at Appalachian State University, is a counselor and the site manager of Camp Creekside. He changed his major from accounting to recreation management and wants a career at the YMCA.

    “I think that’s where God wants me to be,” Friday said.

    One of Friday’s favorite campers was a boy named Adrian, who asked that counselors call him “Ravioli.”

    Ravioli was always picking on counselors or joking around.

    “But if you really just sit down and get to know him … he doesn’t have a father figure in his life,” Friday said. “You have to show them ... attention.”

    The high school campers are in a “Leaders in Training” group to learn to become counselors. But for the aspiring campers who are too young for the program, Friday makes them “little helpers.” They’ll lead lines to the bathroom or do headcounts.

    The hardest part of the summer is saying goodbye, especially for the campers who stay the entire 11 weeks.

    “It’s horrible,” Friday said. “Last year was the hardest on me. I walked a little girl out to her car, and she just started pouring out crying … then I started crying.”

    This summer, Camp Creekside is celebrating an expansion.

    Lincoln County donated 5.5 acres valued at $175,000 on the opposite side of the creek, and YMCA donors gave more than $800,000 to develop the land.

    The expansion will include more open space, sports fields, hiking trails, a sand volleyball court, a ropes course and an outdoor chapel.

    “The camp is like a big family,” said Friday. “We grow so close to the kids, it seems like they’re our little brothers and sisters at times. And that’s something that ... keeps me wanting to come back year after year.”

    McMillan: 704-358-6045

    Subscribe to The Charlotte Observer.

    Hide Comments

    This affects comments on all stories.

    Cancel OK

    The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

    Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

      Read more