Welcome! Thank you for your interest in A THOUSAND SUMMERS. We hope that you will consider featuring our organization and the kids that we serve! If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us.
Organizational PURPOSE / MISSION:
A THOUSAND SUMMERS (ATS) utilizes its affiliation with nine wilderness-based summer camps across the country to provide the underserved youth it funds with the access and opportunity to learn about leadership, independence and perseverance, all while enjoying the camaraderie and adventure of sleep away camp.
The mission of A THOUSAND SUMMERS is to change kids’ lives through transformative summer camp experiences.
Press Kit Components
In its 33rd year of operation, A THOUSAND SUMMERS (formerly known as the John Austin Cheley Foundation) breaks down barriers and provides access to highly regarded summer camp programs that the kids it serves would not otherwise have. Its campers come from all over the country, and in its history the organization has awarded over $9 million worth of summer camp scholarships, known as 'camperships'.
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 (now A THOUSAND SUMMERS) 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 organization continued to grow, it built relationships with youth mentoring programs in key communities around the country to help identify kids who would thrive at camp. These relationships, in addition to its new in-house youth development programming, have allowed A THOUSAND SUMMERS to extend support year-round to the kids it serves.
The combination of high-quality camps, established community partners, one-on-one mentor relationships, youth development programming, and generous donors – all under the umbrella of an organization that carefully matches camps and campers – has made the A THOUSAND SUMMERS program not only successful but also unique.
Since 1989, the continued hard work and generous support of individuals no less visionary or motivated than its founders have allowed A THOUSAND SUMMERS to dramatically expand its organizational impact:
- More than 1,500 total Camperships awarded
- In excess of $9 million in total Campership value awarded
- Over $650,000 worth of Camperships issued annually
Jack Cheley’s dream has sparked over a thousand summers of camp for young people who wouldn’t have otherwise had that opportunity and it continues to guide and inspire the organization today as it delivers on the next thousand summers.
- Provides experiential education opportunities that lead to greater self-respect
- Fosters self-identity, self-esteem, and leadership
- Builds a sense of community between peers
- Allows children to learn skills through firsthand experiences
- Teaches the qualities required to form and maintain key relationships
- Gives children an appreciation for nature and the need to protect and preserve the natural world
Benefits of camp. American Camp Association. (2019, April 4). Retrieved June 25, 2022, from https://www.acacamps.org/campers-families/because-camp/benefits-camp
Research shows that through their time at camp, campers develop critical life skills and grow key social and emotional attributes. A THOUSAND SUMMERS records nine metrics of growth:
- Affinity for nature
- Interest in exploration
“I tried technical climbing, and even though I am still afraid of heights, I discovered that when I focused on just going up, I could climb really fast, even if it was motivated by sheer terror. But, I didn’t fall, and I got to my goal. Sometimes you just have to do the thing you are afraid of and focus on the goal.” - Daniel K, 2-time Campership recipient (Cheley Colorado Camps)
“I’ve never been on a trip alone without my parents and it taught me that I can do things without my parents and I can get through difficult things if I try hard enough.” - Monserratt F, 1st time Campership recipient (Ogichi Daa Kwe)
“Sanborn showed me how to be a better brother by inspiring and assisting others, making great relationships, and treating others fairly. It is important that when you are in a family or part of a group, everyone can help each other even if they don’t want to because you are helping your brothers grow and learn.” - Carlos O, 4-time Campership recipient (Sanborn Western Camps)
“I made so many friends at camp! I know boys from all over the world and we are all different but also the same. I can be friends with others who are not like me and learn from knowing them and how they are and what they do.” - Solomon F, 2-time Campership recipient (Camp Kooch-i-Ching)
“I learned the value of perspective and listening, because even when I think I know what people think, it’s important for them to feel heard. I realized that this is a gift that I can give to my family members and peers.” - Karuna K, 3-time Campership recipient (Cheley Colorado Camps)
“Camp helped me especially after the past year having to deal with Covid and being very disconnected from everything. The camp was a space where we had the ability to get away from everything while still being safe.” - Ella B, 2-time Campership recipient (Colvig Silver Camps)
“Being away from my family really made me see how much I am able to do without them. With my mom not being there to ask questions to, I really had to come up with the answers myself. Doing my chores at camp and on our trips made me realize I'm able to accomplish things on my own.” - Oleana H, 1st time Campership recipient (Colvig Silver Camps)
“I am grateful that there are people out there who understand the importance of camp and are able and willing to give others the opportunity to experience it.” - Cameron T, 2-time Campership recipient (Camp Thunderbird)
Tim LucasExecutive Director
Tel: 1.720.981.2532 ext. 101
Tim directs all facets of A Thousand Summers to further the mission to change kids lives through transformative summer camp experiences. Away from work, Tim likes to build things.
Karen SmithPrograms Director
Tel: 1.720.981.2532 ext. 102
Karen collaborates with A Thousand Summers partners to bring the camp experience to amazing kids across the country. Outside work, Karen loves volunteering at the Botanic Gardens and spending time with her family and her Labradoodle, Maisy.
Alyssa StreetDevelopment Director
Tel: 1.720.981.2532 ext. 100
Alyssa works with donors, foundations, camps, and youth development organizations to fund the A Thousand Summers mission. In her free time, Alyssa serves on the Metro Denver Girl Scouts Gold Award Committee, and spends time in the mountains with her husband and Border Collie.
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnAustinCheleyFoundation
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cheleyfoundation/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cheley_Foundatn
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/john-austin-cheley-foundation/
- Click here to find our most recent news and events.
- Here is a link to the FMLT podcast that features an interview about the work of A THOUSAND SUMMERS.
- Here is a list of our past newsletters and annual reports.