As a young teacher at Webster Elementary School (now Obama Elementary School) in St. Paul, Eric Fotsch saw the need for city kids to have nature-based camp experiences. Eric saw firsthand the inequities between the students he was teaching from the Selby/Dale area and his own childhood. Eric conducted a survey of the students asking who had been in a canoe, on a portage, cooked over an open campfire, slept outside or been on a sailboat. Only 2-3% of students came back saying they had swam in a lake. Realizing a huge barrier was transportation, Eric started fundraising to send his students to camp. Every year since, he has raised money for scholarships for students to attend YMCA summer camp.
Hearing his students’ stories and seeing their development through summers at Y camp, Eric became impassioned to continue to provide outdoor and camp experiences to those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
Over the years, Eric has shared his passion and the stories of impact with his father. Both Hal and Eric love the outdoors and have seen firsthand the benefits of YMCA youth outdoor leadership programs on their own girls. Hal and Eric want to utilize their blessings so others can experience the joy of the outdoors through Y camp.
Together, Eric and Hal have started an endowment fund for the YMCA Boys & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development Program which will be funded through gifts from their estate.