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Camp Fund Sets $1-Million Goal

Starting today, with the kick-off of the annual Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Fund campaign, Times readers can give thousands of underprivileged Southern California children a chance to do something different: to laugh and play and make friends away from the worries of their everyday lives.

Since it began in 1954, The Times Summer Camp Fund has enabled more than 267,000 youngsters to spend a week at summer camp. Generous donations from the public and from Times employees ensure that more than 10,000 needy and disabled children can attend summer camp each year, away from the poverty, violence and physical, emotional and sexual abuse that often mark their lives. Over the years, the fund has raised more than $11.1 million for camperships, including last year’s record-breaking tally of $838,443.

“The Camp Fund represents a remarkable partnership between The Times and its readers,” said David Laventhol, publisher and chief executive officer of the newspaper. “Through their generous donations, our readers and employees are reaching out and offering these youngsters help, hope and a more positive outlook on life.”

Who are these children whose lives are changed by the Summer Camp Fund? Beginning on Monday, The Times will profile various youngsters served by the program. These articles, accompanied by a coupon for donations, will appear Sunday through Friday in the View section. Beginning next Sunday, a list of those donating $15 or more will also appear.

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This year, reinforcing this strong commitment to the youth of Southern California, an ambitious goal has been established for the Camp Fund--to raise $1 million to send even more young people to summer camp.

However, the children don’t rely on donations alone to pay the average $115 weekly camp fee. They wash cars, collect cans or hold fund-raising events to try to make the dream of camp become a reality.

Youth service officials involved in the program say that the camp environment--packed with adventure and physical challenges, such as swimming and hiking--helps the children develop a sense of confidence and control about their lives. Just the chance to share thoughts and ideas with friends and caring camp counselors means a great deal to children who may not receive time or attention at home.

The Times does not own or operate any of the participating camps. Instead, funds are allocated to about 200 Southern California youth agencies, all of which are accredited by the American Camping Assn., according to strict standards regarding facilities, programming and personnel. Some of the agencies receiving funds include the Woodcraft Rangers, Boy and Girl Scouts, Salvation Army, Campfire Councils, Jewish Big Brothers, Inner City Ministries and Boys and Girls Club.

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Disabled children, who make up a large percentage of those receiving camperships, attend camps operated by agencies such as the National Kidney Foundation, the American Diabetes Assn., the Easter Seal Society and the Crippled Children’s Society of Los Angeles County.

Staff members at these organizations select the youngsters to receive camperships. Priority is given to the neediest children, as suggested in the guidelines established and administered by The Times and United Way. In San Diego, the county’s Community Campership Council administers and distributes the funds.

The Times absorbs all costs associated with administering the fund, and Security Pacific Bank donates accounting services.

Readers who wish to contribute to the fund may send their tax-deductible donation to The Times Summer Camp Fund, Dept. 2799, SCF Pasadena, Calif. 91051-2799. No door-to-door solicitation has been authorized or will be made.

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The Times Summer Camp Fund drive is conducted in compliance with the Social Service Department, the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Business License Commission.


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