As camp operators, we are keenly aware that when kids go to camp, they make positive gains in self-reliance, independence, communication, and self-esteem. Unplugged from the constant electronic buzz, children find themselves at camp — making genuine connections with other children, rediscovering the fun in physical fitness, learning their own strengths, and finding their own voices.
Yet, unfortunately, not every child can afford camp. Children with limited financial resources often have limited access to experiences during childhood. And, often, the children who have the most to gain from the camp experience have the least access to it.
As nonprofit organizations, agencies, and religiously affiliated camps typically participate in fundraising activities as part of their regular operations, they often have resources, such as trained professional fundraising staff and/or a cadre of volunteers. They also typically have a level of experience that makes them far better versed in the scholarship fundraising arena than their for-profit and independent camp counterparts.
While it is often the private and independent camps that find this topic most challenging, if we as an association are going to meet the goals of our 20/20 Vision, scholarships, fundraising, and outreach can no longer be the exclusive domain of the nonprofit, agency, and religiously affiliated camp.
The 20/20 Vision is a vision of commitment to serve 20 million children annually by the year 2020. Strategies for implementation of the 20/20 Vision include increasing outreach to camper participants, including those from populations who have not traditionally been served in the camp marketplace, and reaching out to the broader public and communities.
As we reach out as a more inclusive organization and help camps broaden their horizons, in this edition of Camping Magazine, we have sought to provide examples of how camps may implement various partnership and outreach strategies. Providing tuition assistance in any of its various forms is one way a camp can reach out to serve those who might not otherwise be able to attend. The camp experience has the unique ability to break down economic, racial, geographic, religious, ethnic, and social barriers.
Providing scholarships may be one way that a camp broadens the composition of the camp community and promotes equal opportunity among individuals from varying social, economic, racial, national, and cultural backgrounds.
And, while providing scholarships for those who cannot afford the entire camp fee is important, funding to create more opportunities for individuals to attend camp can be far more than offsetting “regular” tuition or “just for” the summer season. Even when tuition assistance is available, not every child can attend the “typical” model of the camp experience at a particular camp. Some youth may not be able to attend a week-long session, but may be able to attend a family weekend program. Some may not be able to attend as an individual, but can come with their school group, etc. Through creating or partnering with alternative funding sources, camps may branch out beyond their typical program delivery in order to serve new audiences and diverse clienteles. In many cases, this may be outreach to those who would otherwise never have access to a camp program.
20/20 Toolbox Series Editor