More than 1,200 children are slated to go to camp this summer as a result of our annual Send a Kid to Camp fund-raising campaign. Most of those children have been troubled in many ways for many years. But one 7-year-old camper has rare creativity and rare intelligence -- qualities that have survived a tumultuous family life. My associate, Amy Simmons, visited with this young man last week to see what going to camp will mean to him. Amy's report:

We sat in the visitors room at Family and Child Services, the social welfare agency that runs the Send a Kid to Camp program. Sean smiled bashfully and sighed, as his social worker and I attempted to cajole him into reciting his favorite poem, A.A. Milne's "Christopher Robin."

Agreeing after only a few pleas, Sean drew a deep breath and, from memory, delivered the verses with cadenced ease:

"Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed,

"Droops on his little hands little gold head,

"Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!

"Christopher Robin is saying his prayers . . . . "

When I first met Sean, he politely said hello and presented his latest drawing -- a Crayola landscape splashed with color. In the middle of the paper he drew two hearts and inscribed in each the words, "Love is good to you."

"I can draw people and rainbows, too," he added, shyly. He gave the picture to Jackie, who has been his social worker for the past year. The walls of her office were already lined with Sean originals.

However, Crayola art and poetry do not complete the portrait of this precocious 7-year-old. He solos regularly during services at Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast Washington.

"If I sing loud enough, some of them will stand up and clap," says Sean, whose repertoire includes such songs as "Climbing Up the Rough Side of the Mountain," "I Have a Purpose in My Life" and "The Rainbow Song."

"One Sunday he just walked up to the preacher and asked if he could sing, and the preacher said, 'Sure,' " Sean's foster mother recalled. She also vividly recalls last Easter, when Sean mounted the stage of the church, offered a brief blessing and announced: "I guess I'll sing a little song now."

Sean will attend Camp Pleasant this summer. It will be the first time he has gone to camp. What is he looking forward to? Not football, swimming or sitting around a campfire -- although he has no complaints about any of these outdoor pursuits. What excites this camper is food.

"I like hot dogs, hamburgers, fish sticks and sushi," he said.


"I never ate it, but I think I might like it," Sean said. This from a young man who actually knows what sushi is.

According to Jackie, Sean's IQ is 113, a remarkable level for a previously neglected child who was given over to foster care 2 1/2 years ago.

Sean's father left the family when Sean was about 2 years old. His mother was a "young disabled woman trying to get her life back together," Jackie explained. "Her relinquishment {of Sean to foster care} was her coming to terms with what she could provide for him. She wanted the best for him."

Sean spent four months at a private local children's home before coming to Family and Child Services a year and a half ago. He was placed immediately with his current foster mother, who plans to adopt Sean. Although he has adjusted relatively well to being a foster child, Sean undergoes regular psychiatric therapy at Children's Hospital.

Sean said he would like to become a magician when he grows up, "because they can make illusions." "And I know all about the tooth fairy," he added, as he grinned to reveal where a front tooth was until recently.

Before I left, Sean volunteered another performance, a preview of his upcoming role in a school play, "Life With Father."

Sean's soliloquy was again smoothly retrieved from his memory. He needed no cues. He merely imagined that the other characters were there with us. He nodded to them and provided brief pauses for their lines. For a moment, I could almost hear them, too.


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.


In hand as of June 14: $51,220.11.

Our goal: $220,000.