CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Samantha found a second family while attending Kanawha County 4-H Camp.
"I love seeing everyone every year. It's a place where I learned to be comfortable with myself," she told camp officials. "The people there are always supportive."
She started attending the camp at age 9 and returned year after year, eventually becoming a counselor.
The camp prides itself on drawing a diverse group. Time is spent focusing on creating a sense of belonging and encouraging community involvement.
Like Samantha, John uses the summer event, held at Camp Virgil Tate, to form friendships and become more confident.
Officials say the camp gives youths the tools to handle peer pressure and resist drugs and alcohol. Life skills and lessons are learned, which, in turn, stimulate generosity.
"Well, I've always thought camp was a place where you could escape the pressures of life, especially as you get older," John said. "Going back gave me a chance to have fun again and recharge for the year to come.
"I gained confidence in myself because no one puts you down, which is what every child should experience, in my opinion."
Give youths the opportunity to find a place where they can be themselves in a supportive environment. Funding is needed for 15 partial scholarships at $100 each.
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, visit 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 Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.