Mission Statement:

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The John Austin Cheley Foundation funds need-based camperships for high potential youth to attend extended-stay wilderness summer camps that have a proven track record of positively impacting youth development.


The John Austin Cheley Foundation is a 501(c)(3) foundation that was established in 1989. The Foundation is dependent on the stewardship of hundreds of individuals, as well as other foundations, to honor the memory of  John Austin (Jack) Cheley and help fulfill his dream of making a camping experience available to deserving youth who could not otherwise afford it.

John Austin (Jack) Cheley was executive director and the driving force of Cheley Colorado Camps from 1941 to 1981, and he continued as an advisor until his death in 1987. The camps were founded in 1921 by Jack’s father, Frank H. Cheley. When Jack was 24 years old, he assumed the directorship following Frank’s death.

Jack attended Colorado College at Colorado Springs and graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, with a degree in Business Administration. He was a member of the American Camping Association where he served as a national vice president of the private camp division and as treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Section. He also served on the Colorado College Board of Trustees.

Jack was known for his faith and positive outlook on the future of young people. He had high standards and expectations, not only for his staff, but also for the campers who attended Cheley Camps. He was highly regarded in the camping field and was often called upon for assistance and advice on camp issues. He greatly appreciated people who were enthusiastic and excited about what they were doing. Because of Jack’s interest in people and his desire that young people have a positive camping experience, friends organized the John Austin Cheley Foundation, following his death.

Cheley Colorado Camps continues under the direction of Jack’s son Don, as well as Jack’s grandson Jeff and granddaughter Brooke. Jack’s widow Eleanor (Sis) Cheley, served as an advisor/consultant, prior to her death in 2005.

A total of more than 800 camperships have been awarded since inception to campers from 31 states and one foreign country, attending a total of 6 Associate Camps.