The North Carolina Bankers Association membership recognized 11 years ago that a number of deserving middle-school students across our state were not exposed to financial literacy, the essentials of credit, and specialized reading, writing and speaking skills. Additionally, these young people did not have the opportunity to have a summer camp experience that so many other students do. It seemed the perfect match to partner with the state’s 4-H program to bring these elements together, making a difference in the lives of our state’s young people.
Since then, the camp has continued to flourish and was expanded from five sessions to six this year, going from mid-June to early August. The number of campers has grown from around 100 to over 600. We continue to have a positive response from the leaders of the groups who attend camp. There are usually a certain percentage of campers who come back a second time and go through a new curriculum.
This year, we conducted a pre and post survey of the campers that will provide us with solid data that they are benefiting as much as possible from the experience. We also sent their parents a survey to see if their child’s behaviors have changed since attending the camp. We eventually plan to develop a tracking system that will allow us to gauge the progress of the campers throughout high school and give a scholarship to one of the campers who has shown the most growth.
The Association works with its members to sponsor several hundred kids from across the state each year to attend the camp. One the students have been through the camp and learn leadership skills, they take this knowledge back to their school and communities. All of the banks who sponsor campers are placed on an honor roll on the NCBA Web site. They are also recognized with their names on sponsorship boards during many of our meetings. The banks also get the satisfaction of knowing that they are making a difference in a child’s life. First Charter Bank, Charlotte, has made significant donations to the camp’s computer lab, which is now called the First Charter Computer Center. A plaque on the outside of the building dictates this and a picture were placed in our magazine, Carolina Banker. We have several partners in this effort, including North Carolina 4-H, boys and Girls clubs, North Carolina State Treasurer’s Office, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Each partner has also been recognized in our magazine.
For the past six years, several hundred bankers have attended a workday at camp to help get it ready for the next year. This project is unique because it is a state-wide effort among our 144 member banks to sponsor kids from their communities to attend. The camp is in a setting with rich history and the goal is to keep that preservation. It is also unique because so many people are involved, especially during the workday. It is all about teamwork and camaraderie.