Mission & History
Our mission is to change kids’ lives through transformative summer camp experiences.
John Austin (Jack) Cheley believed in the words of his father that “great things happen when youth and mountains meet.” From the time he took over the leadership of Cheley Colorado Camps in 1941 until his death in 1987, Jack worked tirelessly to promote the value of a high quality summer camp experience and to raise the bar for independently run camps around the country. When the opportunity arose, Jack was committed to making sure that kids from all walks of life were able to attend camp and experience the magic that happens there: new friendships, new adventures and new opportunities for growth.
At the time of Jack’s death, a group of his friends established the John Austin Cheley Foundation to honor his vision and ensure that kids who would not otherwise be able to afford to go to camp could do so.
What started with the funding of one camper to attend Cheley Colorado Camps in 1990 developed into a nationwide network of partnerships with other outstanding extended stay, nature-based summer camps. As the Foundation continued to grow, it built relationships with youth mentoring organizations in key communities around the country to help identify kids who would thrive in the program. These relationships allowed the Foundation to extend support year-round to the kids it served.
The combination of high-quality camps, established community partners, one-on-one mentor relationships, and generous donors – all under the umbrella of an organization that carefully matches camps and campers – has made the John Austin Cheley Foundation’s program not only successful, but also unique.
Since 1989, the continued hard work and generous support of individuals no less visionary or motivated than our founders has allowed us to dramatically expand our organizational impact:
- More than 1,400 total Camperships awarded
- In excess of $8 million in total Campership value awarded
- Over $500,000 worth of Camperships issued annually
Jack Cheley’s dream has sparked over a thousand summers of camp for the young people we serve and it continues to guide and inspire us today as we deliver on the next thousand summers.
A THOUSAND SUMMERS is a testament to Jack’s vision.
The Dream That Sparked A Thousand Summers: A Video History
Choose a year from the map or list below to watch video depicting some of our milestone moments and achievements.