Happy memories prompt gifts to camp fund

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

Their donations are helping provide scholarships for children from low-income families throughout the region to attend outdoor camps.

Kathryn Shirkey of Charlotte made a $50 donation to The Summer Camp Fund this year, and included this handwritten note:

"I hope that some child has a wonderful experience with camping. I attended a YWCA camp in Michigan growing up - and the pleasure extended to my (high school) and college years, teaching swimming and spending summers as a camp counselor. I was able to spend time away from home seeing other areas, and exploring. It was wonderful. I'm almost 80 and look on those experiences with JOY."

Rick Smith of Charlotte, who donated $250, sent an e-mail sharing how he and his older brother won free trips to summer camp for three years in a row through a drawing at his church.

As a boy, Smith, now 57, had thought his family was just lucky. He later learned it was donors - and not the luck of the draw - who paid for the Smith brothers' camp:

"During my ninth-grade school year, I was a member of the local Boy Scouts' Explorer Post when I learned the truth about winning those free trips to summer camp. Every year, the local Boy Scouts and Explorer Post joined together to raise money to send needy kids to summer camp. And every year they provided a few kids an opportunity to escape the big city so they - as in me and my brother - could spend time just being kids, camping out in a tent and spending time away in the fun two-week world of summer camp.

"...The memories I have from attending two-week summer camp are some of the best memories I have to this day. Camping out, swimming in a lake and pool, hiking, campfires, fishing, sunburns, bug bites and all the other great stuff are just not replaceable. During my time at summer camp I learned to be a team player, to communicate better and to dream maybe I would get to come back next year."

Related stories from Charlotte Observer