It will be tough to leave He Man behind. And GI Joe. And Alvin the Chipmunk. In fact, the middle two weeks of August will be the longest that 12-year-old Craig will ever have gone without watching his beloved Saturday morning TV cartoon characters.

But the supernaturals and superpowereds will soon be replaced by the quiet of the Shenandoah Mountains and the pleasures of country living. In a few weeks, Craig will go to summer camp.

Craig wasn't looking forward to camp when he first heard he was scheduled to go. "There isn't anything to do," he complained, as we sat in the living room of his foster home on 13th Street NW one evening last week. "There's no TV or nothing. What am I going to do without my cartoons?"

If only every question were that easy. Social worker Arthur McGhee and a certain camper-turned-columnist began listing what Camp Moss Hollow in Markham, Va., has to offer.

"There's a swimming pool," Arthur began.

"Is it clean?" asked a suspicious Craig.

"Yes, it's clean," replied Arthur. "And there are horses."

"I like horses," said Craig, beginning to come around a little.

"You ever use a computer?" I asked.

"Yeah," said Craig. "They got discs?"

"They've got discs," I said.

"And they've got a nice basketball court," said Arthur.

"And baseball," I added.

"And mountains. You ever seen mountains?" asked Arthur.

"I've never seen any. I've just seen pictures," said Craig.

"And they've got movies," said Arthur.

"Do they have showers in the cabin?" asked Craig.

"Right in the cabin," promised Arthur.

"And there gonna be just boys in there, right?"

At last, the real fear! Missing cartoons was one thing. But the thought of sharing a shower with girls -- that was yukkiness beyond imagining.

Arthur and I assured Craig that his shower would not be inhabited by any members of that dreaded opposite sex. Craig sat back to digest that information for a second. Then he sat up and asked:

"When did you say I'd be going?"

This is the 38th consecutive year that kids like Craig have looked forward to a fortnight in the woods under the Send a Kid to Camp program. But as with so many previous campaigns, our totals are lagging behind where they need to be.

It is Friday afternoon as I write this, and we are more than $100,000 short of the $190,000 we would like to raise. If we have not reached our goal by the first week of July, some of the 1,100 kids who have been told they'll go to camp will have to be told, "Sorry."

In Craig's case, the chance to go to camp comes at just the right time. He is the only child of an alcoholic mother and a dead father. He was placed in temporary foster care this spring after officials found that his mother had regularly neglected him.

"It has been like a back and forth situation for him," said Arthur McGhee. "He has really been looking forward to a family setting. I think camp could really be what Craig needs right now."

If you think so, too, your dollars would be very welcome.

A kid like Craig faces problems and challenges that two weeks in the woods won't fix by themselves. But if we show him that strangers care enough about him to send him to camp, he may develop a better feeling about his community and about himself.

That has always been the point of Send a Kid to Camp. This isn't a joy ride. This isn't a handout. It's an investment that the community makes in kids like Craig who, through no fault of their own, have faced difficult family situations early in their lives -- and haven't gotten the help that every child needs.

As always, your Send a Kid to Camp contributions go only to the camping program itself. Nothing is set aside for administrative costs or future fund-raising. As always, the money is simply deposited in the bank. Your name and address will not be sold or given to any other fund-raising groups. And as always, your contributions are tax-deductible.

Perhaps you have fond memories of your own camping days. Perhaps your own kids went to camp last summer, and you recognize what a positive experience they had. Perhaps your Aunt Matilda sent you a few unexpected bucks for your birthday. Perhaps, as a reader from Foggy Bottom wrote last week, "it just feels good to care."

Whatever the reason, Craig and 1,100 other kids have an exciting, wholesome experience ahead of them. But they won't have it without your help. Today would be a good day to pick up pen and checkbook and extend as much help as you can.

TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:

Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. of your own camping days. Perhaps your own kids went to camp last summer, and you recognize what a positive experience they had. Perhaps your Aunt Matilda sent you a few unexpected bucks for your birthday. Perhaps, as a reader from Foggy Bottom wrote last week, "it just feels good to care."

Whatever the reason, Craig and 1,100 other kids have an exciting, wholesome experience ahead of them. But they won't have it without your help. Today would be a good day to pick up pen and checkbook and extend as much help as you can.

TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:

Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.