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YSCC helps send kids to camp

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A local philanthropic organization has found a niche that members hope will benefit Yellow Springs children, local nonprofits and the environment: specifically, helping local kids go to summer camp.

“Camp helps kids get away from the computer and helps them develop an appreciation for nature,” said Roger Reynolds of the Yellow Springs Community Council. “If kids know more about the Glen, they’ll take better care of it.”

Glen Helen Ecocamps are among the camps most frequently chosen by local families with children who receive scholarships from the program, according to YSCC summer camp project coordinator Pam Conine. The YSCC will provide up to 75 percent of funding for a camp up to $250, Conine said, and the parents will pay for the rest.

As a longtime teacher in Yellow Springs schools, Conine has no doubt that the new program allows some children to go to camp who wouldn’t do so otherwise.

“There is need here,” Conine said.

Applications for camp scholarships will be accepted May 2 through May 27. To apply, parents should submit a statement of how their child will benefit from the camp experience, along with a camp application to YSCC, P.O. Box 274, Yellow Springs. Recipients will be notified as scholarships are approved.

In its third year, the summer camp project began in 2009 when the Yellow Springs Community Foundation gave the YSCC an unsolicited $2,500 grant to fund camp experiences for local children. The YSCC, which aims to address community needs not covered by other organizations, warmed to the idea.

“It struck a chord with us,” Reynolds said. “With Pam’s experience in the schools, we knew how important it is to families.”

The program has several new components this year, organizers said. First, they are especially focusing on children entering grades 5 to 7, although other children may apply as well. For the first time, parents are asked to kick in a quarter of the cost. And organizers have dropped need-based questions for applicants.

“We don’t want there to be any stigma” with receiving funding, Reynolds said.

Rather, he said, the YSCC is hopeful that parents who can easily afford camp costs will simply not apply to the program.

In its first year, the program funded 26 local campers, both elementary and secondary students, providing up to $200 for each child. Families and kids choose whatever camp they wish, and that year YS Kids Playhouse was the favorite, with eight children attending their summer classes, three attending a Glen Ecocamp, four attending Camp Clifton, two attending the Riding Centre day camp and others attending the Yellow Springs Youth Orchestra Summer Strings program, the Cedarville soccer camp and the Dayton Diabetes Camp. Six children were funded for Village pool passes.

Last year, 16 local campers received funding, with five attending a Glen Helen Ecocamp. Three kids attended YS Kids Playhouse classes, two went to the Challenger English soccer camp, two to Camp Clifton, and one camper each attended the Riding Centre, the Dayton Art Institute Art Camp and the Wittenberg Basketball Camp.

As well as benefitting local children, the YSCC effort supports local camps, according to Glen Helen Outdoor Education Director Beth Krisko.

“The scholarship program is very exciting for the Glen because it offers us the opportunity to serve more Yellow Springs children in our Ecocamp program,” she wrote in a recent e-mail. “Kids who choose Glen Helen for their camp experience will get connected to their local ecosystem and have the time of their lives in the outdoors, while supporting a precious community resource.”

Started in 1967 by Arthur Morgan as the Yellow Springs Community Chest, the YSCC is a small philanthropic organization with a budget of about $30,000. Most of its funding comes from United Way and passes through YSCC to about 12 local organizations, according to Conine. The YSCC serves as the fiscal agent for nonprofit organizations that don’t have the means to incorpoate.

The group also seeks to do good works in areas not covered by other organizations, according to Reynolds. And offering local children a camp experience seems to fit that description.

While funding for the camp scholarship program came from the YS Community Foundation initially, last year the group sought donations from local churches. Most funding ($2,500) came from the Yellow Springs Methodist Church, with $100 from a private donation and $50 from local Presbyterians.

Reynolds and Conine have applied for grants from local foundations, but also seek private donations to keep the program going. The group’s overhead is kept low (the YSCC doesn’t have a Web site for this reason) so that donations almost entirely go to the camp program.

Questions about the scholarship program should be directed to Gudgel at Mills Lawn or Richlen at the Antioch School.

To make a donation to the camp program scholarship, contact Conine at 767-8031.

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