On Saturday, September 27th, 2014, the Sanborn Western Camps administrative team brushed the dust off of their dress clothes and popped down to the Denver Botanic Gardens to not only see the incredibly Dale Chihuly exhibit and the new Science Pyramid, but to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the John Austin Cheley Foundation.
As stated in its mission, The John Austin Cheley Foundation funds need-based camperships for high potential youth to attend extended-stay wilderness summer camps that have a proven track record of positively impacting youth development. Sanborn has been an Associate Camp with the JACF for almost two decades. Other associate camps include: Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park, CO; Friendly Pines Camp in Prescott, AZ; Camp Thunderbird in Bemidji, MN; and Colvig Silver Camps in Durango, CO.
Over 400 individuals were in attendance at the event which included admission to the gardens and museum, a silent auction, dinner and two excellent keynote addresses, one from Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, and the other from our very own camper, Luis Ochoa.
Rue Mapp spoke at length about the importance of connecting young people to the outdoors; while Luis simply spoke about the impact Sanborn, and the Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen, has had on his personal growth and development. Ms. Mapp believes that parents in underserved communities must first understand the benefits of connecting to the outdoors before they will be able to understand the benefit of a camp experience, and that exposure to nature has to happen at a family, grassroots, and community level. Luis Ochoa said, “I used to think BOOM was a only sound—like an explosion in movies—but now I understand it is a brotherhood: The Brotherhood of Outdoorsmen.” Luis also went on to talk about how the connections in the close-knit Big Spring community have allowed him to be a successful student at the rigorous Philips-Exeter academy. “Before I went to Sanborn,” Luis said, “I didn’t know who I was as a person, and how to express myself….Camp gave me the confidence to talk, and when you go to a school where every class is a discussion, that is HUGE.”
The evening was a huge success, both in raising funds to help send even more campers to camp, but also because it made everyone collected under the “Starry Skies” of the twinkle-lit tent at the Botanic Gardens understand the power of the camp experience. Even Hollywood seasoned actor, Jason Ritter, who was the emcee for the evening, found it hard to put the impact of the camp experience into words. Yet for him, and for most of us, camp simply “changed my life.”
“Camp Matters” is the official slogan of the John Austin Cheley Foundation and after being part of such an excited group of passionate camp professionals and camp supporters, it is officially true, too. If you would like to learn more or help send a deserving young person to camp, please visit: www.cheleyfoundation.org
To see more photos of the evening, please visit our Facebook page.