The lessons and practices of Cradle Beach Camp have drawn the attention of teachers, counselors and students from many American states and several continents.
Last year, as in other recent years, the counseling staff included young men and women from several states and Asia, Africa and Europe. The pay isn't world-shaking -- $60 to $120 a week -- but the experience is beyond measure.
The experience of carrying a 12-year-old, feeding a 9-year-old or teaching a child who can't walk to swim does not come easily. But that is what the camp workers encounter at Cradle Beach, along with all the hoopla, games, singing and companionship.
Cradle Beach builds spirits as well as bodies during the nearly two weeks that the 800 invited campers enjoy at the camp.
"We used to measure our success at Cradle Beach by how much weight we could add to our campers," said Molly Lee, a teacher and former counselor who now is president of the Buffalo News/Rotary Club Crippled Children's Camp Fund. "No more. Now we measure our efforts by whether we have helped build a camper's confidence and self-esteem."
"At Cradle Beach, I learned to do things that I didn't think I could," one long-ago counselor wrote recently.
Cradle Beach Camp holds four sessions of nearly two weeks' length in July and August. About 200 selected boys and girls are invited to each session. Usually, half are physically handicapped. Some need to be fed, and others, at times, need to be carried.
Counselors do both, and sometimes other campers get their first taste of what it means to help others instead of being helped.
Cradle Beach Camp is financed by the annual Thanksgiving-to-New Year's drive conducted by The Buffalo News in conjunction with area Rotary Clubs. So far, early December gifts total $30,173.89. Currently, it takes more than $300,000 a summer to run the camp. Much of this comes from the drive.
Gifts may be mailed to The Buffalo News Camp Fund, Box 100, Buffalo 14240. All the donated money goes to the camp. All gifts will be acknowledged; a list of today's acknowledged donations appears on Page B8.
"I am sending a donation to try to show that I appreciate what Cradle Beach did for me when I was a child," wrote a resident of Englewood Avenue in Buffalo. "I attended Cradle Beach in 1970 and what fun I had."