Posted by Tom Hansen
For more than 90 years, the Rotary Club of Kansas City has been rallying all corners of the community to help thousands of kids attend camp. The club, whose members are among Rotary’s first People of Action, gave the first donation to The Rotary Foundation 100 years ago.   

Club 13, as it is locally known, made the first donation to The Rotary Foundation, $26.50 in 1917, and its members continue to model Rotary’s passion for taking action and bringing ideas to life.

In the 1920s, Robert Gees, then president of the club, recognized the need for a summer camp for needy boys after the closing of a Boys Hotel in the city with a similar mission. Buying a heavily wooded tract near a canyon and stream, he placed it in trust, granting exclusive use to the club provided that it always be used for youth activities.

Four Rotarians and a bank representative serve as trustees today, upholding those conditions and ensuring sustainability.

The facility evolved into a special needs camp in the 1940s when Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts began using it for Scouts with disabilities. That focus broadened a decade later to all children with disabilities. Today, Scouts of all kinds use the camp on weekends when school is in session while special needs organizations and Scouts with disabilities have exclusive run of the wheelchair-accessible facilities for free all summer.

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