Thursday, December 15, 2016 @ 3:39 pm | (0) Comments

Meet Blythe … and donate today to change a life!

The story of camper Blythe Wilson and her family validates Camp Blue Skies Foundation’s commitment to providing recreation, socialization and life skills education for adults with developmental disabilities. We hope you will consider a donation to Camp Blue Skies. Your contribution will help us continue our service to this underserved population.

Make A Donation

Blythe Wilson collage and quote

Blythe Wilson, 30, loves to read fiction series such as “Twilight” and “Divergent.” She writes stories, too. A bit of a thrill-seeker, she heads straight to roller coasters at amusement parks.

And she loves Camp Blue Skies, all of it. “The dancing, karaoke, arts/crafts… zipline… the climbing wall… the pottery wheel,” Blythe says. She loves seeing old friends and making new ones.

Blythe’s parents, Sara and Steven, say Camp Blue Skies is the miracle they needed. During her school years, Blythe was a social butterfly who enjoyed learning. After high school, she started to withdraw as the few opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities dwindled.

The Wilsons learned about Camp Blue Skies in 2011 while listening to the John Boy and Billy Show one morning on the way to work. “We were at our lowest point in trying to find something for Blythe when we heard Dick and Kit on the radio talking about camp,” says Sara. “This was like a divine intervention.”

Blythe Wilson climbing wall NC 2016The Wilsons were apprehensive registering Blythe for her first camp in 2012, but the professionalism of the staff, nurses and counselors put Sara and Steven at ease. Even better was Blythe’s smiles in the daily photo updates. She made lots of friends and found plenty of thrills in the zip line and high ropes course.

At camp this year, Blythe conquered new challenges (hello, climbing wall!) and helped welcome new campers. When she returned home, her parents noticed Blythe standing taller, chiming in on family jokes and looking people in the eyes.

“It’s a dream come true for Blythe,” Steven says. “That’s what you want for the people you love.”

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by Crystal Dempsey

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 @ 8:27 am | (0) Comments

10 ways to support Camp Blue Skies

Camp Blue Skies provides recreational and social opportunities, along with life skills education, to adults with developmental disabilities in a traditional camp setting in Georgia and North Carolina. Here are some ways to get involved and help this underserved population:

1. Make a donation!

Camper fees only cover a third of actual cost per camper. Click here to donate online. Call (704) 266-2267 or email hidden; JavaScript is required us to discuss giving opportunities. Also, ask if your workplace will match your gift.

Camp Blue Skies 2016 volunteeers

2. Volunteer for Camp

Sign up for all five days, for a few days or one day! Our incredible volunteers provide support and encouragement to adults with developmental disabilities. Opportunities range from cabin counselor to health services to program assistance to taking photos to being an extra set of hands.

Our sessions in 2017:

  • Georgia at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge: March 13-17
  • Williams Syndrome at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge: March 20-24
  • North Carolina No. 1 at YMCA Camp Harrison in Boomer: Sept. 30-Oct. 4
  • North Carolina No. 2 at YMCA Camp Harrison in Boomer: Oct. 7-Oct. 11


3. Play in Hoops For Camp bracket challenge

During the NCAA Basketball playoffs in mid-March, your brackets can make a difference in the life of an adult with developmental disabilities! Donate $25 or more to play Hoops For Camp NCAA Bracket Challenge online. Bonus: Great prizes! Interested? Click here to sign up for email alerts.

4. Spread the word

Founder Dick Sesler often says we all know someone who would benefit from camp. Tell your family, friends, book club, and golfing buddies. email hidden; JavaScript is required

5. Make your shopping do some good

AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to Camp Blue Skies. To connect your account, click here. You can also search for “Amazon Smile” on and then search for “Camp Blue Skies Foundation.” Once you connect your account, that’s it. After you make an AmazonSmile purchase, you will be prompted to share the news about your good deed to Facebook or email.

6. Buy supplies for Camp Blue Skies

After you connect your account to AmazonSmile, check out our “Wish List” for health center supplies, bingo prizes, games and more. Click here for the list.

Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby

7. Drop a line at the Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby

Our annual Hooked on Camp Fishing Derby fundraiser offers a morning of unparalleled large-mouth bass and bream fishing with professional guides on the private lake at YMCA Camp Harrison, home of Camp Blue Skies-North Carolina. In 2017, the Derby is Sept. 28-29, the days before the first North Carolina session. email hidden; JavaScript is required

8. Book a speaker

We’re available to speak at meetings, gatherings, lunches at work, or your house of worship. Interested? email hidden; JavaScript is required!

9. Get social with us

Connect with us on social media to keep up with the latest news about Camp Blue Skies and adults with developmental disabilities.

10. Become a Blue Skies Booster

The Boosters, a group of volunteers and supporters in Charlotte, help spread the word about our mission. They host special outings and fundraisers. email hidden; JavaScript is required We hope to establish a Georgia Boosters group in the future.

by Crystal Dempsey

Monday, November 7, 2016 @ 11:46 am | (0) Comments

Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby 2016 Full Of Fun, Sun

Camp celebrations kicked off a little early this year as 18 anglers rolled into YMCA Camp Harrison on Thursday, Sept. 29, for the Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby. The annual fundraiser at Lake Broyhill generated approximately $20,000 for the Camp Blue Skies Foundation, and anglers reeled in close to 200 fish.

This was the first year our fishing derby occurred before the start of Camp Blue Skies-North Carolina, Oct. 1-5.

Most derby participants arrived Thursday evening and enjoyed a hearty dinner followed by fellowship. Over breakfast Friday, Sept. 30, Derby Captain and Camp Blue Skies volunteer extraordinaire Gene Vaughan went over guidelines and safety practices.

It was a glorious day for fishing and celebration of Camp Blue Skies!

Among the winners of the competition (watch the video to see the fish):

  • The Biggest Largemouth Bass: Keith Wall, Mannington – 2 lbs., 5 oz.
  • The Biggest Bluegill: Jim Adkins – 1 lb., 1 oz.
  • The Most Fish Caught: JD Donelson and Jim Adkins – 37 bass
  • Smallest Fish Caught: JD Donelson – 1 oz.

We are grateful to the following who made the 2016 Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby such a success!

Barringer Construction
Garmon & Company
HarkerDoerre, LLC
JD Donelson
John and Coletta Lenhart
Mannington / Bonitz
Poly-Tech Industrial, Inc.
REDLINE Design Group
Southeastern Architectural Systems
Warco Construction

Adam Fishman
Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Mac’s Speed Shop
YMCA Camp Harrison

Kim Baker
Tom Hucks
Kevin Ingle
Todd Low
Todd Lynn
John Morse
Wayne Spencer
James Summers
Mark Vaughan

Save the Date!
The 2017 Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby returns Sept. 28-29 to Lake Broyhill at YMCA Camp Harrison.

by Crystal Dempsey

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 @ 9:20 am | (0) Comments

Domtar Is First Company To Become Camp Blue Skies Partner Sponsor

Domtar logoCamp Blue Skies Foundation is pleased to announce Domtar will sponsor the nonprofit’s Oct. 1-5, 2016, session at YMCA Camp Harrison in Boomer, NC.

Domtar is a leading provider of a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication, specialty and packaging papers, market pulp and absorbent hygiene products. With over 10,000 employees serving more than 50 countries around the world, Domtar’s principal executive office is in Fort Mill, SC.

Domtar’s contribution is the first ever Camp Partner sponsorship for Camp Blue Skies, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides a traditional camp experience and life skills programs to adults with developmental disabilities. Domtar employees will volunteer during the week and will play an important role in the success of camp and the experience the campers have.

Camp Blue Skies activitiesDomtar has a rich history of charitable giving and volunteering, having supported camp for the last two years,” says Dick Sesler, founder of Camp Blue Skies. “As we considered corporations who might make excellent camp partners, Domtar was at the top of the list.”

It is estimated between 7 and 8 million Americans, or 3 percent of the general population, experience intellectual disabilities. Nearly 30 million people, one in 10 families, are affected by a person with intellectual disabilities at some point in their lifetime.

Recreational and social opportunities diminish once individuals with developmental disabilities reach adulthood, which often leads to physical and emotional isolation. Sesler experienced this firsthand as his son, Brent, who has Williams Syndrome, became an adult. After researching existing programs, Sesler discovered a niche that would have a lasting impact on campers, volunteers, parents and caregivers.

John D. Williams, Domtar President and Chief Executive Officer

John D. Williams, Domtar President and Chief Executive Officer

“Domtar believes in strengthening communities and supporting Camp Blue Skies will improve the lives of adults with developmental disabilities and their families,” says John Williams, Domtar’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The safe, fun camp environment challenges adults to gain confidence and teaches them skills in order to live more independently. And it is a wonderful opportunity for Domtar employees to contribute to such a great cause.”

Camp Blue Skies provides weeklong sessions to 60-70 adults with developmental disabilities in the fall at YMCA Camp Harrison, near Wilkesboro, NC, about 90 minutes northwest of Charlotte, and in the spring at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, GA., about 45 minutes east of Atlanta.

Campers can participate in recreational activities including fishing, nature walks, high ropes course and field games. Social activities range from an opening night campfire to a variety show. Life skills education includes fitness and nutrition programs, arts/crafts and team building activities.

Adults with developmental disabilities pay a $350 fee to attend Camp Blue Skies. The true cost averages $1,200 per camper to rent facilities and cabins, pay for meals and program supplies, and provide medical and program staffing. Domtar’s generous Camp Partner sponsorship will offset the deficit for a session.

by Crystal Dempsey

Monday, April 11, 2016 @ 9:30 pm | (0) Comments

Thank you for making Hoops For Camp 2016 a smashing success!

Hoops finalCamp Blue Skies received 475 Donations and folks completed 539 brackets for Hoops For Camp 2016 NCAA Bracket Challenge.

The Leon Levine Foundation challenged us to raise $10,000 in new donations for a generous matching gift. Thanks to you and The Leon Levine Foundation, Hoops for Camp 2016 raised a total of $35,552! Wow!

Our final thank you is to Elite Island Resorts for generously donating trips in the Caribbean for our grand prizes. Check out this video to see the three lucky winners, and thanks to everyone for playing!

by Crystal Dempsey

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