YWCA camp offers kids a look at W.Va. wonders

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — If you grew up in West Virginia, you’ve probably visited the Blenko Glass factory and Blennerhassett Island.

But many area children never get the chance to see all the things that make West Virginia so wonderful.

That’s something the YWCA Mel Wolf Child Development Center Summer Camp tries to change.

About 80 percent of the families the camp serves are considered low-income. Many of those trips, even if only a short drive away, are too expensive for a struggling family.

The Mel Wolf camp understands that and takes its campers to places like Coonskin Park and Kanawha State Forest. A park ranger gives campers a tour of Hawks Nest State Park and allows them to explore the state’s natural wonders.

They are given lessons on West Virginia’s history visiting places like Blennerhassett Island in Parkersburg, the Heritage Farm museum in Huntington, the Culture Center in Charleston and Blenko Glass in Milton.

“It’s exciting to help children discover and experience new adventures and activities,” one camp counselor said.

It also gives children who return every year something to look forward to.

Last summer, Jenny’s family life wasn’t very stable.

Her mother was starting to come back around, which was a big change for a young girl whose grandmother had previously had full custody over her. But even through all the changes in Jenny’s home life, she found stability attending the YWCA Mel Wolf Child Development Center Summer Camp.

“Jenny’s grandmother constantly expressed her gratitude for our summer camp and the counselors who provided a consistent, stable, fun and education environment for her,” a camp official said.

Jenny told counselors at the end of the summer that she couldn’t wait to come back.

The camp needs help covering the costs of field trips so campers like Jenny can attend. Many of the families couldn’t afford to pay for the summer camp fees if they also have to pay the costs associated with each trip.

To help a child attend the YWCA camp or another camp, look for the donation form in today’s paper and mail your donation to the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301. Donations also may be made online by visiting www.wvgazette.com and clicking the Camp Fund logo. Every penny you give goes to camp scholarships. The Gazette covers all administrative costs.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.

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