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Enhancing the lives of adults with developmental disabilities through recreation, socialization and life skills education.


Camp Blue Skies helps volunteer find his purpose Message from founder Dick Sesler While our mission is to enrich the lives of adults with developmental disabilities, volunteers often tell us camp transforms their lives, too. Jim Guimond of Charlotte is one shining example. Jim is a personal friend who started volunteering from the beginning and has become one of our biggest supporters. In addition to serving as a cabin counselor, he developed the Balance Your Body program to help improve our campers’ health and flexibility. He's also raised money to help make sure everyone who wants to go to camp can. Jim’s Camp Blue Skies experience, combined with volunteering with Special Olympics and his church, inspired him to pursue a dream. In November 2016, in partnership with four other folks, Jim helped open Kinetic Heights, an indoor, obstacle-based challenge and fitness center, in Charlotte. Kinetic Heights’ goal is to build and empower healthy families, individuals, and organizations, including Camp Blue Skies. Keep an eye out for news about events we’ll be hosting there. Members of the Camp Blue Skies family who attended the grand opening of Kinetic Heights in November (from left): Justin Hoyle, Brent Sesler, Brandon Burrows, Jim Guimond, Kinetic Heights Fitness Director and Outreach Coordinator, and Bob Bowler of Camp SOAR and a Camp Blue Skies board member.

Partnership provides session for adults with Williams syndrome Music and traditional recreational activities: “Expect lots of jam sessions!” More than 40 campers are expected to attend our new session for adults with Williams syndrome March 20-24 at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, GA. The partnership was a natural fit, said Terry Monkaba, Executive Director of Williams Syndrome Association (WSA). "Camp Blue Skies’ personal knowledge and experience with Williams syndrome (WS) through founder Dick Sesler and his family make them a perfect fit for a partnership with the WSA. “We’ll continue to offer our general sessions, but the team and the board agreed we should explore this opportunity,” explained Sesler. “The campers are coming from around the

country including California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Ohio and, in a first for us, a camper is coming from Dubai!” Programming will include lots of fun involving music, along with our traditional recreational activities. “Expect lots of jam sessions,” said Sesler, who has been to many WS events and conventions with Brent. We are excited to have new partnerships with Clemson University and Mercer University College of Pharmacy. Students from those schools will volunteer as counselors and pharmacists respectively.

Camp Blue Skies Foundation 2820 Selwyn Ave., Box 767 Charlotte, NC 28209

Don’t worry if you recently mailed something to the old address, we’ll still get it.

John Lenhart receives first ever Fischenvergnügen Award

Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby 2016 Full Of Fun, Sun

Once during a fishing session at Camp Blue Skies at YMCA Camp Harrision, an enthusiastic camper, who had not uttered a single word, hooked and landed a largemouth bass.

Camp celebrations kicked off a little early in North Carolina as 18 anglers rolled into YMCA Camp Harrison on Thursday, Sept. 29, for the annual Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby.

With the fish flopping on the boat’s floor, the camper threw down his rod/ reel and started dancing and shouting “Fahrvergnügen! Fahrvergnügen! Fahrvergnügen!”

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

“Fahrvergnügen,” German for “driving enjoyment,” comes from popular Volkswagon ads in the ’90s. In honor of the camper’s joy, Hooked on Camp Fishing Derby captain Gene Vaughn created the “Fischenvergnügen” (fishing enjoyment) Award. And it’s only fitting John Lenhart is the first recipient of the “Fischenvergnügen” Award, says Vaughn. “John is a long-time volunteer who has done yeoman's work in advertising, promoting, representing, and fundraising for the annual fishing derby as well as taking campers fishing during camp,” Vaughn explained. “He has excelled in raising money to make camp possible for literally boatloads of adults. John’s dedication provides campers and volunteers with true ‘fishing enjoyment.’ ” Congratulations, John!

The annual fundraiser at Lake Broyhill generated approximately $20,000 for the Camp Blue Skies Foundation, and anglers reeled in close to 200 fish. Among the winners of the 2016 competition: Biggest Largemouth Bass: Keith Wall, Mannington, 2 lbs., 5 oz. Biggest Bluegill: Jim Adkins, 1 lb., 1 oz.

Most Fish Caught: JD Donelson and Jim Adkins, 37 bass Smallest Fish Caught: JD Donelson, 1 oz. Derby sponsors were Barringer Construction; Garmon & Company; HarkerDoerre, LLC; JD Donelson; John and Coletta Lenhart; Mannington / Bonitz; Poly-Tech Industrial, Inc.; REDLINE Design Group; Southeastern Architectural Systems; and Warco Construction In-kind donors included Adam Fishman; Great Outdoor Provision Co.; Mac’s Speed Shop; and YMCA Camp Harrison. The 2017 Hooked On Camp Fishing Derby returns Sept. 28-29 to Lake Broyhill!

GET IN ON THE ACTION! Brackets open the evening of Sunday, March 12, and must be filled out by Thursday, March 16 at noon. You have a shot at winning one of 3 amazing grand prizes!


Happiness is plentiful at Camp Blue Skies. Need proof? Take a look at these smiles from North Carolina Sessions 1 and 2 at YMCA Camp Harrison in 2016…

Volunteer Spotlight: Debby and Dan Debby Rea and Dan Sturzenbecker are three-year volunteers in Georgia and North Carolina. Debby is a longtime friend of Kit Sluder, Director of Health Services and Camper Recruitment. And like Kit, Debby’s a nurse. Over the years, Kit would ask her pal to volunteer but Debby would say no since she had no experience working with adults with developmental disabilities. “In 2013, Kit quit

asking and told me ‘I need you at camp,’ ” Debby said. “I was terrified but said yes and have been hooked ever since. The joy this camp brings to the campers keeps me coming back.” Debby’s husband, Dan, came along and got hooked, too. “There are people who go to a Magic Kingdom in Florida, but I think camp is the real Magic Kingdom,” says Dan. Favorite activity Debby: Swinging out over the lake in the Giant Swing in Georgia. It’s like you are flying on your own, yet it was the assistance of others that helped get you in the air. The NC camp has the climbing wall. I was thrilled when I made it to the top and rang the bell! Dan: The after-dinner slideshow gives your

group a chance to reflect on what you did that day, and to see what the other groups got to do. It pulls the whole camp together. The campers love it when their photos come up on the big screen. What has camp taught you about yourself? Debby: One thing I have gained is feeling free to be myself. While I enjoy dancing, I have felt self-conscious. At camp, I learned it was O.K. to be out on the dance floor having a good time. Now I don’t worry… I get up and dance anyway! Any advice for a first-time volunteer? Dan: I think the hardest thing for a new volunteer to understand is that the volunteers get more from the campers than they give. The campers have much to teach you about dealing with adversity and enjoying life and keeping a good attitude.

Circle of Love - Our Volunteers Our Circle of Love comprises the dedicated persons who have recently given their time, love and support – all priceless gifts. Camp Blue SkiesNC Session 1 Rick Abrams Larry Arnold Kelly Augustin Kevin Brawley MK Brennan John Bullins Mike Cantonese Casey Carver Russ Case Liza Cox Gail Dawkins Mike D. DeSerio David Durham Brock Fankhauser Nicole Fankhauser Dawn Feiler Scott Fletcher Jo Fox

Becca Giannetti James Gillespie, son of Jim Gillespie Jim Gillespie Tammy Goodman Kit Gravanda Chris Greene Brenden Hanes Becky Harris Kaleigh Hathaway Roger Hayes Nikki Howie Steve Huntley Bryant Ibekwe Aaron Jackson Peter James Mekia Johnson-Faulkner Andy Kane Heather Kehr Melinda King KK Lawrence

Scott Leach Martha Lefevre Shannon Maxwell Goldie McGee John Moore Jamie Parker Debby Rea Tasha Robinson Kim Sauls Jamie Sebaaly Kathryn Sherrill Susan Smith Sheri Spivock Dan Sturzenbecker Trish Taylor Shawn Taylor David Taylor Rukayat Usman Jacqueline Wabler Collin Wade Christy Wade Ashley Ward Sarah Wood Yamo Yamanashi Camp Blue SkiesNC Session 2 Mohammed Alhawaj Kevin Batten Jon Beall Karen Breth Desmond Cariveau Dede Caughman Bryan Chambers Patti Collins Ashley Condon Michael Coulter Liza Cox Millie Cox Tom Cox Nick Crawford Smithy Curry Coach J Dunham Fe Egas Neville Fearing Amy Firth Adam Fishman Caroline Greene Brent Gribble Jim Guimond Elizabeth Harris Gale Jackson Kristen James Ally Jarvi Karen Johnson Jeff Johnson Jeannine Julien

Students, preceptors and an alumna from UNC-Asheville’s Eschelman School of Pharmacy. Laura Langwell Jessie Lehmann John Lenhart Mandy Little Deb Lollar Monta Maki Jon Mansfield Mike McGinnis Garrick McNeill Garrett Mercer Darren Monsanto Emily Moore Becky Moore Patrick Moore Mikey Nam Helen Northrup Marcia Reuter Angie Roark Michael Robinson Shari Rognstad Joe Ross James Rumbaugh Perry Sclafani Doug Sheffield Liz Smith Andy Spafford Wayne St. Aubin Joe Taylor Brady Thompson, son of Travis Thompson Travis Thompson Josh Trammell Kenny Turner Divya Varahabhatla Gene Vaughan Barbra Wood Bill Wood Daniel Wood Stella Ye

Thank You to Our Recent Donors Many thanks to all organizations and individuals who provide financial and in-kind support for the work of Camp Blue Skies. This list reflects donations from June 1-Dec. 31, 2016. Blue Skies ($5,000+) John and Judy Alexander Charlotte Woman's Club Art Lund The Leon Levine Foundation Bill and Barbra Wood Zipliners ($1,000 - $4,999) Robert and Susan Aulebach Barringer Construction John and Anne Barry Mary Barry Dan Cedrone Ken Bartels and Jane Condon John and Josephine Beall Jonathan Beall Branch Banking & Trust British American Business Council Stan and Sally Carder Bobby C Carver Chip and Darlene Conrad Cox and Company Darren and Kathryn Ash Foundation Matthew and Lolly Dominski John Donelson Bruce and Deborah Duncan Foundation Marc and Marty Eason Forrest Lennard LLC Scott Garmon Riley and Alice Grier Harker Doerre LLC Odell and Cynthia Hoyle Nora Jaffe Jeff and Karen Johnson

Bill and Patti Kramer Catherine Pierson Lego Mannington/Bonitz Flooring David and Shannon McGahren Dorothy Moss Phil and Marianne Norwood Redline Design Group Robert B Taylor Foundation Beverly and Ira J. Schulman Jane & Nelson Schwab Southeastern Architectural Systems Ubuntu KDCE Foundation Walter and Libba Sprunt Warco Construction, Inc. Jane Webb Tom Webb and Kathryn Heath Wentcher Educational Foundation Robert and Anne Zerbst

Liberty Mutual Jim and Deborah Lollar Al and Lil McAulay Paul and Sandy Otellini Eric Reed Ivon and Blair Rohrer Stanley Russell John and Kathleen Schreiber Foundation Paul and Julia Steffens Rebecca Taunton Joe and Rosalind Taylor Mike Tharp CBT Charitable Trust Paul E. Tuttle Carol C Vale Kirk and Liz Ward John Whitt Mike and Diane Zink

Dude Ranchers ($500 - $999) Elizabeth Alexander Bank of America Foundation Jerry and Elizabeth Clark Larry Cooper James and Betsy Eaton Eric and Martha Eubank Ronnie Fairclough Doug Faris Stephen Furnary Elizabeth Gordon Carrie Guerrette Will and Jenny Joyner Andy and Florence Kane Joe and Jerri Kropp John and Coletta Lenhart

Cabin Mates ($250 - $499) Bank of America Foundation James Blecke William Brady Matt Durso Brock and Nicole Fankhauser John and Shelly Kacergis Liberty Mutual Tim Robertson Mike Strawn Helping Hands (up to $249) Allstate Foundation Mike and Helen Ruth Almond Jill Ammerman Rye & Tracy Barcott

Special guests perform Camp Blue Skies-North Carolina traditionally kicks off with music from Sugar Creek, one of our favorite bluegrass bands. During NC-Session 1 in 2016, two special guests added extra fun to the evening. Claire (left) and Ellie Dixon, granddaughters of volunteer and supporter John Lenhart, played the theme from “Star Wars� on violin. In 2014, the Dixon girls and their brother Luke sold Rainbow Loom bracelets at a Clemson football game as a fundraiser for Camp Blue Skies.

Kent and Maria-Jose Baum Alvin and Tanya Beshears Peter and Karen Billington Greg and Betsy Blinn Sharon Jeanne Appleby Bolton Bob and Marilynn Bowler Charles and Mary Bowman John W. and Mary Ann Boynton Douglas Brackett MK Brennan Karen Breth Wally and Martha Burke Richard Burrows Ivan and Victoria Byrd Christine Carruthers Jade Carter Gay Cass Dave and Wendy Castagna Dede Caughman Chi Omega at Oglethorpe University Tracy Connor Mike Coulter John B Cox Heather Curlee

Smithy and Monta Curry Larry and Paula Delzell Paul C. Denckla Geoffrey Warwick Dohrmann Duke Energy Foundation Suzanne Elliott Bob and Mary Fafinski Walter D. Fisher Barbara Foster Mary Ann Foster Joe Fountain Trish Fries

Pat and Anne Gallagher Connie Kay Gelin Jim and Diane Geocaris Richard and Mary Gerakitis Andy Gitelson Paul Haddock Becky Harris John Hartnett John and Trish Healy Jedidiah Hostetler Scott Hundertmark Peter James

Tributes Over the past year, a number of donations have been made in honor or in memory of special individuals, and we would like to recognize those people: In Honor Of John and Catherine Barnes Alison and Bradford Barry John & Josephine Beall Jon Beall Doug and Sara Brackett Brandon Burrows Charlie Carruthers Tom and Millie Cox Doug and Barbara Crisp Crystal Dempsey Jeremy Foster Murray and Frances Fugate Joe Fountain Joe and Sharon Helsabeck Jon and Brenda Holcomb TJ Jackson David Krug Abbey LaMee

Charlie and Amy Leonard Tom and Annette McIntosh Sean & Kanku Michelsen Bill & Amy Millikan Joel & Bonnie Millikan Lewis and Jane Norman Ralph and Elizabeth Patterson John and Kathy Schreiber Dick & Brent Sesler Dick Sesler Bill and Kitty Taylor George and Georgene Voltz Christy Eayrs Wade In Memory Of Ruth Jackson Jack Sesler Carol Sluder

Robert Jones Phillip and Kenna Jordan Joseph and Rosanna Fountain Stratford Kiger Donna & Doug Knowlton Cortland LaMee Patrick Law Charles Leonard Mark and Kelsey Lin Jim and Clare Long Ken and Stacy Malcolmson Gary McAvoy Neill and Margaret McBryde Christian McCall George and Mary McCammon Sara F McKee Bill and Sally McNitt Bill and Amy Millikan Joel and Bonnie Millikan Amanda Mills Chase and Jennifer Monroe Jeff and Deborah Mundy Pat Murphy Cristy Nine Hendrik and Brittany Nollens The O'Donoghue Family Tom and Amy Okel Blake Partridge

Mary Pennington John and Ridgely Phillips Mary Lou Rahn Dear Heart Family Trust Seth and Susan Reicher Ernie and Beth Reigel Bette and Wolfgang Roth Downie and Sally Saussy Joe and Janice Shrader Carl and Linda Stude Patricia Taylor Chris Teat Lisa Smith Ten Eyck Verdery C Trimmer Carla Van Maldeghem Scott and Louann Vaughn Mary Walker Sarah Warren Sandy Weaver Mike and Chris Wiggins John Williams Eric Wolski Stuart and Debbie Woodhouse Fletcher and Anne Wright Weimin and Mari Yuan Rob and Susan Zink

Domtar partnership a win-win for volunteers and campers “I know I was there to help the campers, but I left feeling like they helped me even more. I was touched by each and every [camper] at Camp Blue Skies and will definitely volunteer at future camps.”


That excerpt comes from a letter Domtar finance manager Trish Taylor sent to Domtar President and CEO John Williams to express her gratitude for her Camp Blue Skies volunteer experience. Domtar became our first ever Camp Partner with its generous sponsorship of our Oct. 1-5, 2016, session at YMCA Camp Harrison.


Domtar is a leading provider of a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication, specialty and packaging papers, market pulp and personal products. Camp Blue Skies spoke with Domtar employees last summer in Fort Mill about the important role volunteers play in the success of camp and the experience the campers have. 5

 Left: Trish Taylor with …………………………; Right: Among the Domtar employees and family members who volunteered (from left to right, top to bottom): Brenden Hanes, Scott Fletcher, Trish Taylor, Camp Blue Skies Founder Dick Sesler, daughter of Domtar volunteer Kelly Augustin, Chris Greene, Kelly Augustin and Goldie Mcgee.



Taylor was one of those who signed up and spent three days volunteering. “Seeing the excitement on the campers’ faces as they arrived was unbelievable,” she wrote to Williams, a member of the Camp Blue Skies Foundation Board of Directors. “As the days went by, I saw some of the campers who were not very outgoing begin to open up and interact with others.”

1) Among the Domtar employees and family members who volunteered (from left to right, top to bottom): Brenden Hanes, Scott Fletcher, Trish Taylor, Camp Blue Skies Founder Dick Sesler, Briana Augustin (daughter of Domtar volunteer Kelly Augustin), Chris Greene, Kelly Augustin and Goldie Mcgee. 2) Jim Gillespie and camper Bryant Graeber. 3) Trish Taylor and camper Charlie Carruthers. 4) Domtar volunteers joined a Balance Your Body session. 5) Campers Ben Sansbury, Brad Willes and Goldie McGee and Scott “Yamo” Yamanashi.

Riding for Blue Skies Volunteers Scott “Yamo” Yamanashi and Jacqueline Wabler raised money for Camp Blue Skies by completing a 47-mile ride Oct. 16 during Spin For Kids, a Camp Twin Lakes' fundraiser for their partner camps in Rutledge, Georgia. The bike ride helps provide life-changing camp experiences for individuals with serious illnesses, disabilities, or other life challenges.  Interested in riding for Camp Blue Skies this fall? Email


2820 Selwyn Ave., Box 767 Charlotte, NC 28209


Camp Blue Skies-NC Session 1

Camp Blue Skies-NC Session 2

Hoops For Camp NCAA Bracket Challenge fundraiser March 12-16

Hooked on Camp Fishing Derby: Sept. 28-29

Camp Blue Skies-Georgia: March 13-17

Camp Blue Skies-NC #1: Sept. 30-Oct. 4

Williams Syndrome Session: March 20-24

Camp Blue Skies-NC #2: Oct. 7-11

CONTACT INFO 704-266-2267

Profile for Camp Blue Skies Foundation

Camp Blue Skies 2017 winter newsletter  

On The Ground is the bi-annual newsletter for Camp Blue Skies, a nonprofit providing traditional camp experience for adults with development...

Camp Blue Skies 2017 winter newsletter  

On The Ground is the bi-annual newsletter for Camp Blue Skies, a nonprofit providing traditional camp experience for adults with development...