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Camp made world of difference for teenager

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mark had been having a rough time. He recently had moved to a new area in the middle of a school year. His parents separated.

The summer before his 11th-grade year, he reluctantly arrived at the counselor-in-training program at Camp High-Tor. Each year, between 300 and 350 children and teenagers attend the camp, which is run by the Tri-County YMCA.

When Mark's mother dropped him off at camp, he pretended that he forgot something in her car and then tried to jump back into the vehicle.

Camp officials say, though, that once Mark gave camp a chance, there was a noticeable change in him.

His mother noticed too. Nearly two weeks after he arrived at camp, she asked the camp officials what they had done to him.

"He asks to come to camp, he's working on his weight and he's smiling," Mark's mother told camp workers.

Mark also was less depressed, she said.

Camp officials were so pleased with Mark's progress that they offered him a job. He works with one of the elementary after-school programs during the year.

 The Tri-County YMCA's Camp High-Tor is one of the camps supported by the Gazette Charities' Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund. The camp is located on a 52-acre site in Putnam County.

The theme at this year's Camp High-Tor is "Unplugged," because the setting allows people to unplug from cellphones, computers and game systems.

For more information on Camp High-Tor, visit http://www.tri-countyymca.org/summercamp/camps.html.

To help a child attend this camp or others like it, mail your donation to the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301. To donate online, go to www.wvgazette.com and look for the camp fund logo.

Every penny donated goes to camp scholarships. The Charleston Gazette covers all administrative costs.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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