Our Mission, Vision, and Core Values
“Any kid who is given a small opportunity or a chance to be part of Wayfinders should take it. It will change their life. It will shape them into better people and make them well-rounded overall.”
Our mission is to ignite students’ potential by expanding their confidence, connections, and horizons. We achieve this through summer camps, year-round enrichment programs, and mentor relationships for self-motivated, underserved students.
Our vision is that every child, regardless of zip code, has access to transformative life experiences through camp, mentorship, and educational opportunities.
Every student possesses unique potential that must be identified, encouraged, and amplified.
Zip code and parental wealth should not decide children’s destinies.
Student support must be early, consistent, and ongoing.
Nature is a powerful teacher.
Adventure and achievement build confidence and courage.
Enriching summer experiences should not be a luxury.
Broadening a child’s social network expands their choices and aspirations.
Everyone needs a mentor to help them navigate their life.
Quality mentoring transforms both students and mentors.
Our students’ families are partners and allies who deserve our respect.
Diversity cultivates crucial understanding and empathy across differences.
Equity is year-round, long-term work that requires collaborative community partnerships.
Bruce Irons, a Charlotte public school educator, was deeply committed to providing all children equal access to educational opportunities. He strongly believed that a quality education demanded learning experiences beyond the classroom walls, and included meaningful summertime enrichment activities. The Bruce Irons Camp Fund (now Wayfinders) was established in 1988 by his friends and family members to honor his memory and to extend his work on behalf of children.
For the first 12 years, we provided camp scholarships for one to two fourth-grade students at Eastover Elementary School. In 2000, we broadened our reach by partnering with additional Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary schools, and by developing a collaborative relationship with Communities in Schools (CIS).
In 2018, we celebrated 30 years of providing transformative summer camp experiences to underserved children in Charlotte.
In 2019, we changed our name to Wayfinders and expanded our program so that scholars could remain in the program through high school graduation, eight years total.