Carl B. Kern Fund: Camp Founder Continues to Inspire a Love for the Outdoors More than a Century Later
When YMCA Boys’ Work Secretary Carl “C.B.” Kern and his colleague, Chris Kunz, decided in 1910 to take 28 area youth on a camping trip to Fort Ancient, Ohio, little did they know the excursion would lay the groundwork for Camp Kern. This local campground has helped youth experience the great outdoors for more than 100 years.
Sadly, C.B. passed away eight years into his tenure with the YMCA and didn’t get to see his idea blossom into the beloved campground destination it is today. Reading the tributes written at the time of his untimely death at age 37, one can sense the undeniable mark he left on the community.
“Dayton has lost an exceptionally competent boys’ secretary,” said George B. Smith, president of the YMCA of Greater Dayton in 1917. “He was beloved by all the boys in the city and could exert a wonderful influence over them for good. He had a kindly disposition, and his love for the outdoor life and for boys’ sports endeared him to the heart of every boy who knew him.”
“We are so thankful for the hundreds of gifts received over the years. I would like the fund to reach $1 million to ensure financial support…in the years to come.”
– Dr. Stuart Weinberg, Dayton Foundation donor
C.B.’s legacy stretches far beyond the youth he influenced more than a century ago. Thanks to his thoughtful leadership and vision, he continues to touch the lives of thousands of children each year.
“I had the pleasure of being a camper, staff member, board member and volunteer for Camp Kern. My experiences working with children played a key role in my decision to become a pediatrician,” said Dr. Stuart Weinberg, who began attending Camp Kern at age eight. “The positive impact that one person can have on youth cannot be underestimated. C.B. considered summer camp an especially valuable environment to provide guidance and leadership to youth.”
Camp Kern had such an impact on Stuart’s life that in 1987 he established the Carl B. Kern Fund of The Dayton Foundation to honor the man whose vision was the setting for many of his fondest memories, including meeting and marrying his wife, Anne. With the support from Kern’s relatives in German-town, he chose The Dayton Foundation because it is a “well-respected Dayton institution with deep ties to the city’s history, leadership and civic interests with a long tradition of responsible financial stewardship.” To date, the fund has awarded nearly $160,000 to enhance the camp’s operations and provide summer camp opportunities for local youth who may not otherwise be able to attend.
“To see the transformation from when we dropped her off, to the buzz of excitement when we picked her up was amazing,” said Julie, whose daughter was able to attend Camp Kern, thanks in part to support from the Carl B. Kern Fund. “Words can’t express how thankful we are for the generous donation that allows children to have a week to just think about being a kid, have fun and create memories that will stay with them forever.”
The fund relies on donations from friends and alumni of Camp Kern to build its endowment. A significant estate gift was received in 2005 from famed Dayton Daily News columnist Roz Young, whose husband, Bill, was a longtime director for Camp Kern. To encourage additional donations and estate gifts, a matching gift of $30,000 recently was announced in honor of the fund’s 30th anniversary.
“We are so thankful for the hundreds of gifts received over the years,” Stuart said. “I would like the fund to reach $1 million to ensure financial support for camperships and for the camp to develop its programs and facilities in the years to come.”
He also stresses the importance of honoring C.B. and the legacy he left to Greater Dayton.
“With Fort Ancient on the east side of the river and YMCA Camp Kern on the west, there is a sense of timelessness when one can stand on the riverbank, listen to the water’s current, stare in awe at fireflies across a field, search for fossils underneath your feet and surround yourself with the same wildflowers and Pawpaw trees that were described in the area 100 years earlier,” Stuart said. “I think C.B. would greatly enjoy sitting down with children and staff who have attended the camp bearing his name, hearing about all of the wonderful experiences that they continue to enjoy.” ❧
Good News is made possible by five Dayton Foundation donors and families who have stepped forward to become the Foundation’s 2016-2017 “I Believe!” Partners. Click here to read their stories.
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