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SUMMER CAMP CAMPAIGN

One good deed, one great week

A San Gabriel teen who found and returned a wad of cash heads to Camp Round Meadow.

June 15, 2007|Amy Kaufman | Times Staff Writer

Dominik Dinkha and his buddies were just grabbing some grub from a local Subway restaurant this spring when the 13-year-old spotted something mysterious: an abandoned Washington Mutual envelope that had been left on the store's counter top.

"At first, I wanted to keep it," Dominik said of the envelope, which held $3,000 in cash. "But I knew I should turn it in."

So he did the right thing and headed over to San Gabriel City Hall, where the money was later claimed by a music producer.

"He gave me a hundred bucks and told me he'd get me backstage to any concert I wanted to go to," Dominik said of his reward.

An even bigger prize for his good deed? A week at YMCA Camp Round Meadow, which was granted to him by the Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel, where he spends time after school playing pool and talking with friends.

Dominik, whose parents are divorced, said he spends most of his time with his dad, who runs his own auto shop as well as DJs at local parties.

"I'm really excited to get away for a little while and learn new things there," the eighth-grader said of his trip to the camp. "You know, like archery and stuff."

Dominik will have the opportunity to aim for bull's-eyes, take digital photographs and go mountain biking at Round Meadow, where he'll be one of about 150 kids ages 8 to 17 who travel weekly to the camp, which is located in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Being outdoors allows campers to develop their character in an atmosphere of positive reinforcement. One of the most popular activities offered is the daring high-ropes course, according to Kevin Zeiger, program director for YMCA Camp Round Meadow.

Dominik thinks he'll have no problem tackling a high wire after accomplishing various feats in his latest hobby: skateboarding. Dressed in the requisite garb -- big black skate shoes and a Rise With the Fallen-brand T-shirt -- he showed off his latest trick in front of the Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday.

"That was a half-cab," he said proudly, explaining the skater lingo as his bangs fell into his face.

So, will his cherished skateboard go with him to the camp?

"Nah," he said. "There'll be a lot of other cool stuff to try."

The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley is one of 60 organizations receiving financial support this year through the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign.

More than 8,000 underprivileged children will go to camp this summer, thanks to $1.5 million raised last year. The annual fundraising campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, which this year will match the first $1.1 million in contributions at 50 cents on the dollar.

Donations are tax-deductible. For more information, call (213) 237-5771. To make donations by credit card, go to latimes.com/summercamp. To send checks, use the attached coupon. Do not send cash. Unless requested otherwise, gifts of $50 or more will be acknowledged in The Times.

amy.kaufman@latimes.com

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