McColl challenges Carolinas to reach camp goal

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.

But honorary fund chairman Hugh McColl Jr. is asking readers for one last surge of generosity. Just less than $10,000 in donations is needed to reach the Observer’s goal of $100,000 for the fund, which sends children from low-income families in the Charlotte region to 12 day and overnight summer camps.

Reaching the goal is important, McColl urges, because the Leon Levine Foundation has promised an additional $20,000 if readers contribute $100,000.

Getting the Levine pledge will mean sending an additional 50 or more children to summer camps, which range from local day camps to week-long overnight camps in the mountains of North Carolina.

“Since we’ve had this wonderful offer from the Levine Foundation, the McColl Foundation would like to kick off this challenge by putting up $1,000,” McColl said. He and his wife, Jane, previously donated $1,000.

He’s challenging 100 readers to donate $100, or 10 corporations to come forward with $1,000 checks.

“If you’re asking yourself why you should do this, it’s because every young person who we give an opportunity to experience a better life will end up leading a better life,” McColl says, “and that means a better life for all of us.”

In 2012, readers donated a record $81,000 to the fund, which allowed 206 children to attend summer camp this summer.

So far this summer, readers have donated another record $90,239.73.

“It’s such a great way to send hundreds of children from Charlotte and our region to summer camp, where they’ll learn a love of the outdoors,” said Tom Lawrence, executive director of the Leon Levine Foundation.

“We hope that more and more folks from the area will give to this important fund and help the summer camp fund reach its goal,” he said. “Because every child who goes to camp will come away with an impactful and memorable experience to take with them and grow for the rest of their lives.”

The fund, which is in its fifth year, has sent more than 800 children to summer camp. The Summer Camp Fund puts special emphasis on camps that provide children a true outdoor experience. Camps are also required to offer children skills in reading and are encouraged to teach swimming. Some specifically serve children with special needs, like autism.

Ann Caulkins, publisher of The Charlotte Observer, says she’s hopeful readers will come through with the $10,000 needed to receive the grant from the Levine Foundation “so we can not only have a record-breaking year, but an even more phenomenal year that will allow us to send more kids to camp than ever before.”

Caulkins said the stories told in the Observer’s weekly series spotlighting the work of the participating camps shows “that this is a game-changer in (children’s) lives – for what kind of parents they will be, what they might do for a living, and it just really expands their horizons.”

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