CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A young boy with ADHD and autism, "Billy's" first few days at the YWCA Mel Wolf Child Development Center Summer Camp were rough.
He had limited ability to talk to his counselors and fellow campers and preferred to do activities by himself instead of interacting with the group. He was at first frustrated by his difficulties in expressing his thoughts and needs to others.
But with patience and determination, the counselors eventually developed a relationship with Billy, working through his communication barriers.
As the summer went on, Billy made friends with his fellow campers.
Eventually, the other children embraced him and encouraged him to try new things. At the pool, he was usually the first one to jump in. He also began to enjoy field trips.
Billy is just one child whose life has been impacted by the YWCA's summer camp. Each year around 32 children learn about everything from science and sports to nature and cultural activities.
The camp is just one of the many camps supported by donations to the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund.
YWCA campers visit area parks for picnics and outdoor activities and the Cultural Center for historic learning. They learn about West Virginia history by visiting the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and the Heritage Farm Museum in Huntington. They also learn physical education and a love for the outdoors. They explore nature while visiting Hawk's Nest and touring with a park ranger.
About 80 percent of the children who attend the camp come from low-income families that receive subsidy assistance to help pay for childcare expenses. Because the camp serves families on a fixed income or no income, the camp affords opportunities that otherwise might not be available.
To help a child attend the YWCA Mel Wolf Child Development Center Summer Camp or another camp, mail a donation to the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301.
To give online, go to wvgazette.com and look for the camp fund logo.
All donated money goes toward camp scholarships. The Charleston Gazette covers the administrative costs of the fund.
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.