Summer camp: Sailing, swimming, seeing yourself grow

Summer camp was more than just an activity for Cody Ronan.

For the 13-year-old at Oakridge Middle School in Clover, S.C., its impact is evident, said his grandfather, James Ronan, 60.

After receiving a scholarship from The Summer Camp Fund last year, Cody was able to attend YMCA Camp Thunderbird on Lake Wylie.

With help from The Summer Camp Fund, an initiative started last spring by The Charlotte Observer and the nonprofit Partners in Out-of-School Time, children from low-income families throughout the Charlotte region will be able to attend outdoor camps.

"In my opinion, he learned how to get along with other people he didn't necessarily know," Ronan said. "It was more than just a good time at summer camp."

Cody was nominated by his principal at Crowders Creek Middle School last year to receive the scholarship because he excelled as a student, Ronan said.

While at Camp Thunderbird, Cody said he learned to sail a boat in a day, go swimming, kayaking, and go to a petting zoo.

"Everyone is friendly there and you don't really have to be shy," Cody said.

Camp also inspired him to learn to play an instrument.

"(At camp) they were playing songs on the radio that I really liked, so I wanted to get involved in music," Cody said.

Now, Cody is in the school band and has been playing the trumpet since August 2009. He also learned to read sheet music, he said.

"(Camp) gave him the self-confidence to do those things he maybe wouldn't have done," Ronan said.

Cody is not attending camp this year, but hopes to go next summer. "The experience of a child leaving home and going into a new environment is a great experience," Ronan said.