CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Michael lives with his dad, but spends his summers with his mom.
When he came to the YWCA Mel Wolf Child Development Center Summer Camp for the first time last year, he was understandably anxious.
"It's hard coming in as a new kid on the block," said camp director Elizabeth Teel.
Michael's sister had already been coming to camp, so she knew the ropes. Other kids and camp staff welcomed Michael into the fold, and soon the 8-year-old was part of the family.
"It's great the way the kids welcome in a new child," Teel said. By the second week, "you can feel that the tension is lifted and they're excited to be there."
Other campers and staff wouldn't let Michael be left out, and soon he was a camp pro, Teel said.
Michael is just one of the children whose life has been touched by the YWCA summer camp. About 32 children a year attend the downtown Charleston camp, where they attend field trips and learn about science, nature and the world.
While at camp, children visit Coonskin Park and Kanawha State Forest. They'll visit Hawks Nest and hang out with a park ranger. They'll learn about state history with trips to Blennerhassett Island in Parkersburg and the Heritage Farm Museum in Huntington.
The Mel Wolf Child Development Center Summer Camp is just one of the many camps supported by donations to the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund.
About 80 percent of the children who attend the camp come from low-income families that receive subsidy assistance to help pay for child care 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 Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.