When you grow up in the city, as so many of us did, life in the country can seem like life on another planet.
Ever hear a frog croaking? Not on a downtown street corner, I'll bet.
Ever canoe across a lake? You'd have a tough time finding either the canoe or the lake in most urban neighborhoods.
Ever smell a forest 15 minutes after a rainstorm? There aren't too many forests back home in the land of fast food and DONT WALK.
If you send a city kid to the country for a couple of weeks, these and similar experiences widen his eyes--and his horizons. The urban child becomes a little less jaded, a little less guarded. Instead, he becomes more stimulated about the world around him--and therefore about himself. As a result, the child benefits, and so does the community to which he returns.
For the 36th year in a row, Family and Child Services, the oldest social welfare agency in Washington, plans to send hundreds of children from all over the area to its three camps in the Virginia countryside this summer.
These aren't kids with closets full of $45 polo shirts. They're from poor families. Troubled families. Broken families. They're kids who, in many cases, have never been away from home. They're kids who can benefit most from the camping experience.
But Family and Child Services can't send them all, and may not be able to send any, without your help.
In the past, the agency relied on funds raised through an appeal published annually in The Washington Star. The drive was called Send a Kid to Camp, and it did the job for a generation and a half.
But when The Star folded in August 1981, it looked as if the camps might also. Caught in the money squeeze that has bedeviled nonprofit agencies all over the country, the camping program at Family and Child Services found itself with no reserve funds and no prospect of $100,000 falling from the sky.
Into the breach stepped The Washington Post and Bob Levey's Washington. In eight weeks last spring, through the generosity of you readers, we raised $119,544. That sum sent more than 1,100 kids to camp who otherwise would not have been able to go.
And now we need to do it again.
On June 27, the first busloads of 1983 campers are scheduled to head for camps in Prince William and Fauquier Counties. But to assure that every child who has signed up to go to camp actually boards those buses, we need to raise $124,000.
That's a lot of dollars, and just seven short weeks in which to raise them. But we can do it if as many of you as possible pitch in and contribute. I'll be reminding you of the need to help every week or so until Bus Day is upon us.
Why is more money needed this year than last? Inflation is one reason, but an increase in the number of campers is the biggest one.
At Camp Moss Hollow near Markham, Va., where the older campers go, workmen are just finishing a new tent village atop a 500-foot mountain. The additional capacity will allow 1,228 campers to beat the D.C. heat this summer, 128 more than last year.
But 124 grand will only get these kids to and from camp, and feed and house them once they're there. Because donations ran far below need during the last years of The Star's campaign, the camping program used up its reserves. That has made the program a hand-to-mouth operation since the mid-'70s.
If enough money is raised this year, facilities could be improved and needed equipment could be bought. If we exceed $124,000, the camps can have baseballs and ballet shoes and canoes and computer teaching terminals. It's up to you and me.
The clock is ticking; only seven weeks to go. Won't you give to a program that has been making Washington a better place to live since 1947?
Please make your contribution in the form of a check or money order. All contributions are tax-deductible. Make checks or money orders payable to "Send a Kid to Camp" and mail them to:
Bob Levey, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20071.
Thanks very much in advance.