By Julie Loncich, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Mayor Tom Menino first approached philanthropist Jack Connors in 2006 with an idea to start a summer camp for inner city kids.

“He said I’m worried about the kids next summer. In certain neighborhoods they’re dodging bullets, some of them not successfully,” said Camp Harbor View co-founder, Jack Connors.

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Camp Harbor View started in 2007, and for many, it wasn’t just their first trip to Long Island; it was their first trip to the beach.

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“The kids who came to the camp the first year were polled and 45% of them had never seen the Atlantic Ocean,” said Connors.

3,500 campers now count themselves alums. They are Menino’s legacy.

“I have friends who have passed away and I know I would have been with them if it wasn’t for camp,” said 21-year-old Ivan Blanco-Alvarez.

“I know that if I hadn’t gone to camp I wouldn’t be the person I am right now,” said 17-year-old Jun Ni.

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“A parent. Somebody else that I could look up to and just helped me grow up,” said 19-year-old Jonathan Bekele.

The four week long programs cost children and their families just $5. The remaining cost is covered by private sponsors.

Thomas Menino made sure he was a frequent guest.

“It has always struck me how the kids approach him. ‘Hey, Menino, remember me?’ They all feel he really knew them. Not just that they knew him, but that he really knew them,” said executive director, Cara Gould.

Gould says the Mayor lived for these visits. They all lived for him.

“It was the honor of my life to call him my friend,” said Gould.

More than 800 children attend the camp each July and August.

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