There are many organizations out there that will are ready and willing to help you financially as you consider camps. The following list is a handy place to start:
Since 1972, the Taylor Statten Camping Bursary Fund has provided financial assistance to more than 700 children.
"Usually, our applicants are from single-parent homes, some are on government-assisted programs or (their parents) are students who have gone back to university," says organizer Wendy Waldorf.
Applicants must be able to make some contribution toward the camp fee, pay the tax, cover costs incurred at the tuck shop, and provide equipment, such as a sleeping bag. See http://www.tscbf.com/
For an extensive list of camps offering subsidies, check out the Ontario Camping Association’s bursary and subsidy guide.
Summer Dreams and AMICI Camping Charity are volunteer-run foundations that help send kids to OCA-accredited camps. For applications, visit www.summerdreams.ca or call 905-889-5229, or visit www.amicicharity.org.
Organizations such as the Lions, Optimists, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs support initiatives that improve the lives of children.
The Uxbridge and District Lions Club set up the Jericho Camp Fund in 1996 and has since given more than 100 local children the chance to be campers. Contact the clubs. Corporate help
Every year, Tim Hortons hosts Buy A Coffee And Help Send A Kid To Camp Day and sends about 9,000 kids to its camps in Canada and the United States.
Campers are chosen through franchise store owners, who work with local agencies in the community, says Diane Slopek, manager of corporate communications.
Parents can petition school principals or agencies such as Big Brothers for a recommendation. Call the Children’s Foundation at 1-519-448-1248.
The Toronto Star’s Fresh Air Fund helps 25,000 special needs and underprivileged children attend 95 camps each summer. The fund raises about $500,000 a year from readers. Every penny is spent on campers. The money is distributed to non-profit camps, which offer subsides to children referred by schools and community groups.
The Salvation Army gives kids a chance to get away from it all at Jacksons Point, Ontario. In addition to religious study, the facility offers water activities, sports, arts and crafts and music. Applications can be made through any Salvation Army Family Services office.
Community churches are also a good bet. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Trenton, Ontario, offers bursaries to kids in its parish.
Ask local church leaders if they sponsor bursaries.
In the Greater Toronto Area, the Welcome Policy ensures that children from a variety of backgrounds can access municipal recreation programs. Low or no-income families who qualify — applications can be picked up at recreation or civic centers — will have fees waved for one aquatic, one non-aquatic and one camp program per child.
In Ontario, parents of children with disabilities can access government funding for help in paying camp registration fees. The Ministry of Community, Family and Children’s Services has two programs — Special Services at Home, which provides annual funding, and Assistance for Children with Severe disabilities, which provides monthly payments. Waiting lists are long and a lot of paperwork is involved, but families are advised to apply anyway. Contact your local or regional ministry office.
For families in the Maritimes, the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) is an interprovincial co-operative agency that supports educational services, programs, and opportunities for persons from birth to 21 years of age with low incidence sensory impairments. Find an application for summer camp financial aid on this page.
With a little planning, children from any background can experience the summer of a lifetime. Just remember to do your research early. Deadlines begin in January and spaces are limited.
Also, when you apply for a subsidy or bursary program, you probably will be asked for a copy of your income tax return or T4 slip. It’s a good idea to include with your application a reference letter from the child’s teacher or coach.
And, in the midst of your preparations, don’t lose sight of the goal: Encourage kids to have fun planning camp fundraising of their own.