A Message of Thanks from Carlos

During this traditional time of giving, we want to recognize you as part of a community committed to giving young people an opportunity so powerful that it has the potential to shape their future. While at camp each summer, campers forge lifelong friendships and overcome challenges, becoming more confident, resilient, and responsible.

We are proud of the work we do together to change kids’ lives. Thank you for believing in our mission and for positively impacting the lives of some wonderful kids.

Click on the video below for a special message from Carlos explaining how grateful he is for your support.

Your Support is Changing Kids’ Lives

We would like to say THANK YOU to our loyal and generous supporters who help to provide the gift of camp to amazing kids around the country, allowing them to develop lifelong friendships and important life skills while having the time of their lives. We are so grateful to our supporters for making a difference in the lives of the young people we serve, and they are truly appreciative also.

You can hear from a few of them by clicking on the video below.

Outside Influences

A Thousand Summers has the great fortune to partner with some of the highest quality outdoor adventure summer camps in the United States. Though their natural environments differ, they share common philosophies of social and emotional growth through supportive communities and outdoor experiences.

“Outside” looks different for the kids in our A Thousand Summers program depending on which camp they attend. They might spend their summer exploring Rocky Mountain National Park or the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. They may find themselves at the bottom of a rock canyon in the Utah desert or learning about ancient cultures at Mesa Verde and in the Four Corners region. They may learn to love the remote North Woods of Maine and the Appalachian Trail or the stunning lakes of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some even get to venture internationally to canoe through the pristine wilderness and interconnected waterways of the Canadian Boundary Waters. And starting this summer (2022), some of our campers will have the amazing experience of living in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest at our newest associate camp, Camp Nor’wester.

I see the impact of camp on my son. He is much more responsible, independent, and confident in himself. Thank you for allowing these low income kids to have these opportunities and beautiful experiences in their lives…You have had a great impact on my son’s life that he will never forget.

  • parent of a Sanborn Western Camps camper

“My son had very welcoming and friendly camp counselors. He LOVED them. I know that those counselors made a huge difference for him. He was AFFIRMED. He was encouraged. He was accepted. It was great.”

  • parent of a Camp Kawanhee for Boys camper

Regardless of which camp they attend, all of our kids experience incredible scenery and invigorating activities from sunup to sundown. The highlight of their day might be standing on the summit of a snow-capped 14,000-foot peak, hiking to a pristine lake deep in the backcountry, or sleeping under the stars on a multi-night backpacking trip. Maybe they enjoy a lunch on the trail in the middle of a wildflower meadow, a shaded forest, or on the fragile tundra. They might feel the exhilaration of sliding down a summer snowfield or rafting or canoeing through whitewater canyons.

“Being outside and with other kids—this has been a huge lack in his life, and I am so glad he has gotten a chance to do both of those. He is maturing so much, and I can see the leaps from before to after camp. He is calmer, he is more confident, he feels more steady within himself. It is wonderful.” 

  • parent of Kooch-i-Ching camper

They could spend their days learning backcountry camping and survival skills—how to build a fire, cook outdoors, pitch a tent, build a shelter, use a map and compass, administer first aid, and Leave No Trace. They may overcome fear and self-doubt on a technical climbing route or create lifelong memories when things don’t go as planned on a challenging hike. They might experience the peaceful sounds of the canoe or kayak paddle dipping gently into the smooth water or the exhaustion of spending the day battling a strong headwind or navigating difficult portages.

“Each year I talk about the small summer successes that have pushed my daughter to growth. But now, as the years have passed, I see an overall picture, one that has deeply been shaped by her experiences at summer camp, the loving guidance of the camp, and the commitment of her mentor. She is passionate, driven, not willing to accept no as an answer, motivated to take the difficult route, and determined to succeed. It has been a beautiful journey to watch unfold. I cannot wait to see how that continues throughout high school and into her leadership years at camp.” 

  • parent of a Clearwater Camp for Girls camper

Maybe their day is spent as simply as splashing their friends in a cold mountain stream, building rudimentary stick dams in the creek, and letting their imaginations roam. Their time may be spent collecting firewood, finding the perfect flat spot to pitch a tent, and ending the day by roasting marshmallows and singing songs with friends around a campfire.

However they choose to spend their days at camp and whatever “outside” looks like at that particular camp, the kids learn and grow through their experiences. Their time away from home in a challenging yet supportive outdoor environment pushes them out of their comfort zone. They try new activities, meet new people, and discover new things about themselves. They become more confident, more independent, more responsible, and more resilient. Camp teaches kids life lessons and helps them develop essential social-emotional skills that stretch their potential and help them realize there are no limits to what they are capable of achieving.

“My son definitely feels like he was able to overcome some challenges and anxiety this summer. He has come home with a more relaxed demeanor and things don’t seem to agitate him as much as they did before…he seems to be much more able to roll with things since his return.”

  • parent of a Camp Thunderbird camper

“I am always astounded at what a different young woman comes home from camp each year…there is a new maturity, a clarity about the purpose of her life and her place in the world, a newfound understanding of what is truly important in life and her role in making a difference in other’s lives.”

  • parent of a Cheley Colorado Camps camper

The A Thousand Summers Campership Program opens up a whole new world to our kids and, in many cases, has a profound impact. The parents of our campers regularly tell us how incredibly grateful they are for this opportunity and what a remarkable difference it made for their child. As you can see from the parent comments we’ve included here, the particular camp they attend or the natural environment of the camp doesn’t matter. The personal growth experienced is universal.

“I have seen lots of different programs throughout my life that are geared toward kids and their growth. This is one of the best I have seen by far. My favorite part of this is growth in themselves in an austere environment. It is far too easy for our kids in today’s world to stay in a comfort zone of screens and social media. By unplugging them for a long period of time and sending them into areas where discomfort is going to be normal, they tap into a whole new area of development and self-discovery. This is just an amazing thing, and I can’t say enough about how much it has helped my son.” 

  • parent of a Colvig Silver Camps camper

Summer camp is powerful in many ways and unquestionably important in the development of young people. Thank you to our wonderful associate camps who provide such rich programming opportunities and experiences for the kids we serve. And thank you to everyone who finds it in his or her heart to share the gift of camp, whether that gift is for their own family members or for kids who deserve the opportunities and advantages that summer camp provides.

“This opportunity that you have given our daughter to attend camp in a different ecosystem, surrounded by inspiring counselors with college experience, has been a window into another way of life she will always have with her… Our family is grateful and blessed with your generosity, which has helped our daughter explore beyond what our family can provide.”

  • parent of an Ogichi Daa Kwe camper


Bridging the Summer Achievement Gap


To a certain extent, all children experience learning loss during the summer months when the school year ends. The temporary cessation of formal classes provided by the school has the effect of reducing the amount of quality organized learning opportunities resulting in the loss of some of the educational growth that previously occurred during the academic year. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).

The achievement gap refers to the persistent disparity of test scores and assessments between groups of students, especially groups defined by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and gender. Summer plays a huge role in the problem — and the solution. Johns Hopkins University researchers estimate that as much as two-thirds of the achievement gap can be traced to summer learning loss in school. And because that loss is cumulative, the achievement gap may never close. Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 4.58.52 PMDuring the summer months, under-represented children tread water at best or even fall behind, while children from more advantaged families build their skills steadily.

Many Americans have a wonderful image of summer as a carefree, happy time when “kids can be kids,” and take for granted the prospect of enriching experiences such as summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries. Unfortunately, many under-represented youths face anything but idyllic summer months, often struggling to access educational opportunities, as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.


Parents with the means invest more time and money than ever before in their children while lower-income families, which are now more likely to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources (1).

Children whose families are not struggling financially have more opportunities to participate in camps and other educational programs during the summer that will help their minds stay sharp and retain more of what they learned during the school year (2).

Longitudinal studies indicate that the effects of summer learning programs endure for at least two years after participation (3).

achievement gap graph

We believe that the children of families who are financially disadvantaged should have the same opportunity. A Thousand Summers Camperships help under-represented children learn independence and safe risk-taking, build essential mentor relationships, and reap the benefits of connecting with nature. Research shows that summer learning programs such as summer camps remove barriers to success, with participating students showing improved school attendance, and more positive attitudes toward learning.


1. New York Times, Feb 9, 2012, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say. Sean F. Reardon, Stanford University, Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low-Income Children
2. The American Camp Association 2016
3. Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning, RAND Corporation 2011

Support the Jack Cheley Endowment Campaign

In recognition of 30 years of the John Austin Cheley Foundation (A Thousand Summers) and in conjunction with Cheley Colorado Camps’ 100th-anniversary celebrations we are honoring Jack Cheley’s legacy with a campaign to establish the Jack Cheley Endowed Campership.

This $150,000 fund will ensure that a deserving camper attends Cheley Camps every year in Jack’s name, in perpetuity, developing lasting character and resiliency for the recipient through challenging experiences in a supportive and natural environment – just as Jack intended.

Bob Allen Street Family Challenge Match

Your tax-deductible donation can have twice the impact thanks to the Bob Allen Street Family Challenge Match which will match campaign donations dollar-for-dollar up to $45,000. With your help and powered by this exciting challenge match we aim to raise the remaining $90,000 to fully fund this Endowed Campership.  

Meet Our Newest Trustees

We are very excited to welcome six new trustees to our governing board. They each begin their first three-year term of service on July 1, 2021, and bring valuable experience and important skills to our organization as well as a tremendous passion for camp and for advancing kids.


John Ceraolo: Boca Raton, FL

John is a former camper, CILT, and counselor at Boys Trails End at Cheley Camps. He began his career in information technology and held positions of increasing responsibility leading to executive roles in and being noted as an internationally recognized expert in cybersecurity. John is ready to give back to where it all began, his experience at summer camp.


Natasha El-Scari: Kansas City, MO

Natasha is a poet, performer, writer, and educator who has been widely published and featured at numerous universities and venues nationwide. She is the mother of two children, both of whom are former A Thousand Summers campers. Natasha is our first campership parent to be elected to the Board of Trustees.



Sara Erickson: Kennebunk, ME

Sara is a Boston native who has over 25 years of experience working in the medical field in public health, pediatrics, and internal medicine. Dr. Erickson currently works at York Hospital in Wells and Samford, Maine. Sara enjoys skiing, taking her two rescue labs Mookie and Outlook hiking and to the beach, eating lots of lobster, and going to visit her children who live all up and down the east coast.


Sarah Littlefield: Reading, MA

Sarah is currently the Director of Aloha Camp in Fairlee, VT. Before that, she worked in independent schools and school consulting and owned a healthcare business. She brings with her extensive experience in youth program development, small business administration, sales, customer service, recruitment, and staff development. She lives just outside of Boston with her husband, Chris, two teenage sons, Johnston and Hayes, and their Goldendoodle, Leah.


Lindsay Nyquist: Durango, CO

Lindsay fell in love with summer camps at age 19 when she worked as a counselor at Colvig Silver Camps in Durango, CO. She spent her next eight summers there, eventually taking on the role of Assistant Director. Lindsay has been a mentor for our campership program since 2007. She now serves as the Director of Marketing & Communication at Fort Lewis College in Durango, where she is passionate about helping students from underserved communities obtain a college education.


Francesca Sally: Atlanta, GA

Francesca is pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business with a concentration in Strategy and Innovation. Francesca has served as Social Chair of Blacks in Business, is a Graduate Research Assistant, and was recently elected as the first-ever African American President of Scheller’s Graduate Business Council (student-body President). In her free time, Francesca enjoys volunteering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, traveling, hiking, playing/watching sports and discovering new restaurants.

Click here to view a full listing of our current Board of Trustees

Former Trustee Presentation and Q&A

We hope you will all join us for a short Zoom presentation and Q&A session for all former trustees. Tim Lucas, Executive Director, and Alyssa Street, Development Director, will talk about what we have going on this summer and be on hand to answer any questions you may have. If you plan to join this event please register below.