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IN THE NEWS Greenwich Department of Human Services looking for help funding summer camp scholarships

IN THE NEWS: Greenwich Department of Human Services looking for help funding summer camp scholarships
  
By Ken Borsuk
  
Published Tuesday, June 20, 2017

GREENWICH — The Greenwich Department of Human Services is seeking angels interested in helping needy kids attend camp this summer.

Alison Brush of the town’s Department of Human Services said her organization can provide some tuition help to 200 kids from low-income families through camp scholarships but said another 50 children — currently on a waiting list — could use the same benefit.

“We’re looking for whatever amount is possible,” Brush, the town’s community gifts project coordinator, said. “It all adds up and people can be sure that 100 percent of the money is going to get kids to go to camp. There are no overhead costs here. It all goes directly to the kids. The more people are willing to give, the more kids we can get off the waiting list.”

The goal of the Campership Program is to get the kids into a camp for at least part of the summer. Many of the scholarships cover kids for two to four weeks for day camps and, for some, sleepaway camp for one or two weeks.

“We’d love to send the kids to camp all summer long, but we just can’t do that for 200 kids,” Brush said. “We simply don’t have the budget for it. But we’re trying to do as much as we can because this doesn’t just benefit the kids by getting them into camp. It also helps the parents by providing child care for them.”

Having kids out of school for the summer, especially in families with single parents or where both parents work during the day can make child care a challenge. The town and YWCA Greenwich coordinate scholarships for families in need of child care during the day.

“At YWCA Greenwich, we strongly believe that every child should have a safe, happy and fun summer,” YWCA Greenwich president and CEO Mary Lee Kiernan said. “Supporting scholarships gives opportunities for those children to grow socially and emotionally, prepares them to be more successful when they go back to school and provides parents with peace-of-mind in knowing their child is being well taken care of while they’re at work.”

The town’s campership program has been in place for more than 50 years; Brush said it exists because the community has consistently backed it.

“We have many regular donors who come through for us every year,” Brush said. “I can’t tell you how much support we get. I see so many names each and every year doing all they can to help. They are really dedicated contributors. We just need more of them to make sure the kids on our waiting list can have a camp experience.”

Sponsorships vary. Brush said $400 can send a kid to camp for two weeks and $525 can cover three weeks but any donation will help.

Brush said the support is usually good enough that the department is “almost always” able to get to all the kids on the waiting list.

More information is available by calling Brush at 203-622-3715. Checks made out to the Greenwich Campership Fund can be mailed to Brush at the Greenwich Department of Social Services at Town Hall, 101 Field Point Road, Greenwich, CT 06830.

The donations are tax deductible.

The town runs several camps during the summer through its Department of Parks and Recreation. Greenwich Summer Adventures is a co-ed program for kids ages 8 to 15 split into two sessions totaling seven weeks at the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center. Kamp Kairphree is for kids ages 5 to 12 at the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center. Both camps begin on June 26 and run during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Brush said the department also helps children attend the town’s music camp and art camp, the Greenwich YMCA and YWCA camps, the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, a performing arts camp in Cos Cob and the Boy Scouts of Greenwich’s Camp Seton.

Don Palmer, program director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, said the more involved kids are, the better their summer is going to be.

“I think it’s real important,” Palmer said. “Kids need to get outdoors and run around and get that fresh air. When they’re at camp, they’re meeting new people so it’s important for socialization. It’s a great way to make new friends and try new things.

“We don’t want kids sitting around,” Palmer said. “We want them to come to our camp. We want them to go one of the other camps in town. We want them to be able to go out and really enjoy their summer.”

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