YMCA, WTOP team up to send kids to camp

WASHINGTON — Not every kid who wants to go to summer camp can afford to, so WTOP and the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington are hoping D.C.-area residents can chip in and help needy families during the “Send a Kid to Camp” drive, underway until 7 p.m. Wednesday.

A donation of any amount helps, but $50 sends a kid to camp for one day, $250 for one week.

Carlotte Crawford’s family gets financial help from the Y to get her kids to camp and swimming programs.

“There’s so much support we get from the Y and it’s just great because it gives the kids confidence,” she says. “They get to meet new people, we get to go places, they have all these activities.”

Carlotte, an Army veteran, also is a former postal worker who was injured on the job and is now on disability. The D.C. resident is the legal guardian of eight kids and teens ranging in age from 7 to 19. Some are her great-nieces and great- nephews.

“I couldn’t let the kids just go to foster care,” she says of her decision to take in so many children. “Everyone needs to know that someone cares about them and loves them.”

She adds she benefits, too.

“They keep me young, and they make me feel good about myself. I want to make them feel good about themselves.”

Carlotte says the kids are good students, and she’s determined to keep them that way.

“I’m ex-military — I don’t play. The kids know. We do work. We read together,” she says, adding that she keeps a library of books for them in their basement.

In the summer, the kids go to the YMCA’s Camp Letts, a sleep-away camp in Edgewater, Maryland.

“We play Marco Polo, we have game time, we have ‘fiesta,’ which is when we play after dinner,” says 7-year-old Lucious Crawford of his camp experience.

The camp offers activities ranging from horseback riding and paintball to sailing and archery.

Marquis Wright, 13, says at Camp Letts, he most enjoys doing “things that you can’t imagine that you would do,” such as camping and rock climbing.

“We couldn’t afford the amount that it would cost to go,” says Carlotte of the camp, “but they helped us out and made sure that my kids could go and participate.”

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