A few pennies here, a little bit of pocket change there can add up to an experience at a summer camp that will pay off for years to come.
Amanda Brady of Bangor, mother of Lily, 13, and Matthew, 9, knows that first hand. Lily attended the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation Camp Kentahten in Campbellville, Ky., last summer and Matthew recently returned after a 10-day stay.
Brady said the experience was very beneficial to Lily. “She was encouraged to do things she might not otherwise choose to do. She is a sweet, loving girl who finds it hard to fit in at school, at times,” Brady said. “She made new friends and participated in group activities [at the camp].” What Brady first noticed after her daughter returned home was that Lily was more independent, and had more self-esteem and self-confidence. “While she was at camp she was able to see that people were accepting of her. She learned valuable lessons that haven’t gone away.”
Lily had never been that far away from her parents and four siblings for that long a time. She had never traveled by airplane. A counselor from the camp travelled with Lily to ease that big step.
“Lily is interested in reading, writing, art, working with younger children, swimming and the outdoors,” Brady said. “She wrote and created a little book about her camp experience.”
Matthew, Brady said, is quiet and shy, and tends to sit back and watch rather than be involved. He loves anything to do with the outdoors. He also likes to draw and take photographs. “He was anxious about going, but Lily told him he would love it,”she said.
Shortly before the date for departure to Camp Kentahdin, he found out that one of his school buddies also was going and that changed Matthew’s mind about wanting to go. “I’m looking forward to hearing his stories,” Brady said.
Marc Nicknair of Glenburn, owner of four Tim Horton stores in Bangor and Brewer serves an ambassador for the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. “I get the word out,” he said, letting the the community know that the camp is available to economically disadvantaged children. “We partner with the communities to help select children to go to camp, including local schools and YMCA programs.”
Last year 16 children age 9 to 12 residing in towns from Old Town to Newport attended Camp Kentahten.
The foundation also has camps in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Quebec provinces in Canada and funds the camp experience for approximately 16,000 children each year, according to information at its website.
Children living in the United States go to Camp Kentahten. If they are chosen for the foundation’s Youth Leadership program, they will attend camp every year, including camps in Ontario, until they graduate from the program and high school. At that point they also receive a scholarship to help defray the cost of attending college.
“We try to give the children something to hang on to, to show them they are important, that they can do something, and look at life differently from what it is now,” Nicknair said. “It’s neat to hear their stories.”
Gregory Charalambous, 17, a senior at Brewer High School, made his first trip to Camp Kentahten seven years ago and went on to be selected for the foundation’s Youth Leadership program. “I almost didn’t go the second year,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave home again. But my parents said it was a once in a lifetime thing and if they had had the chance, they would have done it.” But now he’s really glad he did. The experience helped him overcome his shyness and make many new friends. It also boosted his self-confidence to such a degree that he campaigned for the position of president of his senior class at Brewer High School. “I won,” he said, with audible pride in his voice. “I think I will do a good job.”
He knows he has taken a great deal away from the Youth Leadership program that he will carry with him the rest of his life. “Definitely the skills, getting the know people, introducing myself, being in front of a group and leading a session, and speaking to group,” he said. “I’m very grateful I go to go [to camp], he said. In addition, to Camp Kentahten, he has attended Tim Horton Memorial Camp in Perry Sound, Ontario, and Tim Horton Onondaga Farms camp in St. George, Ontario.
Susan Blier, school counselor, Brewer Community School, said that when students from the school return from a stay at the foundation’s camp, she notices that they more apt to include others in group work and play. “They are more open to and empathetic to other’s needs,” she said. “Going off to camp afford them the opportunity to learn teamwork. They get a boost in self-esteem. I seem to see them walk straighter taller with great deal more self-confidence.”
This camp is fantastic.”
Blier said the school that for approximately eight years, the school has sent two fifth-graders from the school each year. “They learn so much about themselves, it helps them grow up. I love hearing their stories that and seeing the difference in the students.”
So where do pennies and pocket change come in? That’s one of the ways the ways funds are raised to make it possible for children to attend the camp free of charge. Each year, the first Wednesday in June is Camp Day, Nicknair said, when proceeds from all Tim Horton’s coffee sales, hot or cold, throughout the chain in the United States and Canada goes to benefit the camps. This summer’s effort raised $11.8 million.
Nicknair’s stores also did a special promotion. It created the cheeseburger doughnut — made to look like one, not taste like one. The only way to get the doughnut was to make a donation to the camp fund.
A golf tournament to benefit Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation will take place Monday, Aug. 19, at the Waterville Golf and Country Club. Registration will begin at 10 a.m., with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. For information, go to thcfmainegolf.com.
For information about Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation, go to timhorton’s.com.