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The Summer Camp Fund was launched in 2009 to increase opportunities for low income children to experience the outdoors during the summer months.
The Summer Camp Fund is administered through Observer Charities, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation.

Hundreds of Charlotte-area children from low-income families will make memories at camp next summer, thanks to the generosity of Charlotte Observer readers and the community

More children than ever will attend summer camp next year through the Charlotte Observer Summer Camp Fund, thanks to readers’ contributions during this year’s campaign.

For Ashton Espinal, it’s the little things that make summer camp great.

The first time Reggie Morehead headed off to Camp Grimes with a group of Boy Scouts, “Grease” was big at the box office, “Happy Days” was on TV and Jimmy Carter was president.

Every weekday morning for the last four summers, Cobey and Orlando Montgomery have headed into the Old Armory in Monroe for YWCA summer camp.

One camper was apprehensive at first but had so much fun he’s doing it again.

The summer before his seventh-grade year, Karel Mazanec was a sullen, angry kid.

It was on a stage at summer camp that Gregg “Woody” Wood found his calling.

In this electronic world, kids don’t always have the chance to enjoy summer pastimes of splashing in rivers or catching fireflies, much less tending a garden or tromping through brush.

Hugh McColl says some of the most valuable lessons he learned at summer camp were also the simplest.

He’s led one of the nation’s largest banks and is often credited with growing Charlotte into a financial capital, but Hugh McColl still remembers what it felt like to jump into the chilly, spring-fed lake at YMCA summer camp.

He’d never been to the mountains before, much less a sleep-away camp tucked in the woods, so Raphael Bikai was leery of what to expect as the church van wound its way from Charlotte to Lutheridge Camp in Arden, near Asheville.

UNC student David Shin and Lee Scott, who has autism, developed a tight bond last summer and hope to catch up again at this summer’s camp.

This weekend, the Charlotte Observer launches the 2013 Summer Camp Fund drive as we help kids make lasting memories.

Donate online at charlotteobserver.com/summercampfund. 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.

The Carolina Panthers Charities advisory board and team mascot Sir Purr gave a $5,000 donation to The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund on Friday morning.

Carolina Panthers majority owner Jerry Richardson spent a muggy morning one day last week at the YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird, chatting with starstruck campers about his camp days, keys to success and the upcoming football season.

Observer publisher Ann Caulkins thanks you for donating a record amount of money to the newspaper's Summer Camp Fund.

Thirteen-year-old Kate Jarvis doesn’t like to look people in the eye.

It's Pastor Mary Canniff-Kuhn's 18th summer as co-program director at Camp Lutheridge in the N.C. mountains, but it's comments from the campers that always make her look forward to another year.

In the simulation, Andrews, 16, plays a girl in a family that has fallen on hard times. Andrews decides his character will skip class to look for ways to earn money for her family.

When Mary Kim Folds, a Davidson resident and mother of two, read about The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund, she paused: There’s got to be some way to help.

It had been 35 years since most of the camp counselors had seen one another. They’d been separated by oceans, busy schedules and family commitments.

Campers blow off steam, learn about the Bible, make new friends and create pieces of art with their own hands.

For more than a half century, Camp Celo in Burnsville has offered kids a distinctive experience. Long before North Carolina schools were forced to desegregate, the camp recruited children of all races.

Summertime is about getting dirty, finding critters under logs, spotting an adventure in your own backyard. That’s why the Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund gave Charlotte Nature Museum money for 10 needy children to go to camp for a week.

The Salvation Army’s Camp Walter Johnson near Davidson has touched more than 55,000 needy children. And it all started with one conversation.

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

Jerry Richardson first went to summer camp at age 7 when his parents sacrificed to send him.

Alice Reynolds cried when she got the diagnosis: Her 9-year-old son, Karl, the youngest of four healthy boys, had Type 1 diabetes.

The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund is working with nonprofit POST (Partners in Out-of-School Time) to send children from low-income families to day and overnight camps.

Carol Snyder describes her son Ross in one word: relentless.

Ariana Carrothers just came home from more than two weeks sleeping in a big tent at Camp Celo.

Camp Thunderbird's personnel director Kaye Carraway has witnessed the power of summer camp.

John Petrie lives in Fort Mill, a long way from his hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Still, he remembers his summer adventures at Camp Storer in Jackson, Mich., which he regularly attended from 1947 to the early 1950s.

Charlotte business owner Jason Crawford read about the Summer Camp Fund in The Charlotte Observer and pulled out his checkbook.

Two Duke University students have had a chance to see the value of summer camp scholarships this summer.

Delaney Anderson, 13, has a hard time participating in activities with other children his age. Due to a chromosomal disorder, he is the size of a 6-year-old and has autism with mental disabilities.

At Camp Celo, campers live close to nature and play an active role in the world around them.

Last year, two 10-year-old boys volunteered consistently at the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville.

If you grew up in the Charlotte area, you may have been lucky enough to attend Camp Thunderbird - at least once.

Summer camps offer special memories for kids - and counselors.

Thanks to the generosity of the Summer Camp Fund, five Catawba County kids will return to 4-H camp this summer.

It's hard to forget when you learned to swim: the joy of taking off the floaties and feeling nothing but your arms and legs propel you through the cool water.

Donate online at www.charlotteobserver.com/summercampfund. Or send donations to The Summer Camp Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, N.C. 28237-7269

Thirteen-year-old Jaheem Mann of Charlotte went to camp an archery novice, and left a pro.

Thanks to readers’ generosity, 146 children from the Charlotte region enjoyed a summer filled with nature hikes, swimming, rock sliding and s’mores. And many are dreaming of doing it again next summer.

Perched high in treetop cabins, three sisters laugh with new friends during 'turtle time' at Camp Golden Valley.

It's not unusual for campers to have their doubts when they first dip into the chilly creek here at this sprawling camp in the mountains of McDowell County, about two hours northwest of Charlotte.

Donors to The Summer Camp Fund say their own camp memories are among their fondest recollections from childhood.

2013 Fund donors

Thank you to those who have donated to the fund this year!
Full list of donors

What is the Summer Camp Fund?

The Charlotte Observer Summer Camp Fund awards grants to operators of outdoor summer camp programs to provide scholarships to low-income children residing in counties The Charlotte Observer serves.

How does it work?

The following camps have received 2013 scholarship grants from the Summer Camp Fund. Families should apply directly to the camps which will select the campers receiving the scholarships.

• Camp Royall/Autism Society of North Carolina, Inc.
• Superhero Training Camp/Boys & Girls Clubs of York County
• Camp Grimes/Boy Scouts of American-Mecklenburg
• Camp Celo
• Camp Lakey Gap
• Carolina Raptor Center/Kids for Conservation
• Charlotte Nature Museum
• Lincoln County Family YMCA Day Camp
• Lutheridge Camp
• Camp Walter Johnson/Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte
• Camp Thunderbird/YMCA of Greater Charlotte
• YWCA Union County Summer Camp