For over a decade, 3,500 local campers have had the opportunity to attend summer camps each year through Access Camp grants. These grants provide funding to local camps so that they can offer scholarships to campers, whose financial barriers may limit their ability to attend overnight camp. Access Camp grants were established through a gift from the Mary I. and David D. Hunting Fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. It was the donor’s wish to support summer camps in West Michigan by making them more accessible to families regardless of their financial situation.
To learn more about the importance of summer camp and Access Camps, we interviewed Ruth Bishop, education program officer at the Community Foundation:
Q: What impact does going to camp have on children?
A: American Camp Association and other sources report that summer camp experiences help children to develop new skills, provide continued learning in the summer and broaden their horizons. Research shows that camp increases the ability to handle new situations and surroundings. It also increases the ability to develop and maintain friendships and get along despite differences. Self-confidence and independence also increases as the result of a camp experience.
Q: How do Access Camp grants reduce barriers for Kent County children to attend camp?
A: The grants provide additional funds for local camps to offer Kent County residents, with a particular focus on residents of the City of Grand Rapids, financial assistance to cover the cost of an overnight camping experience, including transportation. This means that youth who have limited access to funds, limited exposure outside of their own neighborhood or environment, or who face challenges in life are able to experience the benefits of summer camp.
Q: Where can families find information about camps to send their children to?
A: The website www.westmisummercamps.org has an extensive list of accredited overnight camps in the area. Another resource to research day camps or summer enrichment activities is www.kentisd.org/instructional-services/student-programs/summer-camps.
Q: How do families apply to receive camp scholarships?
A: Each overnight camp is granted funds to offer scholarship opportunities. To apply for a scholarship,families should contact the camp directly to inquire about their scholarship process and application. Grand Rapids Community Foundation does not offer scholarships directly to families for camping requests.