What Kids in Camp does
Kids in Camp (KIC) is a charity founded in 2005 by camp directors and the Ontario Camps Association (OCA). It provides families with “camperships” to help subsidize the cost of camp.
KIC partners with OCA-accredited day and overnight camps as well as families. These three parties team up: Each pays approximate a third of the cost of summer camp for kids who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
How does the process work? “The camp director initiates the need,” says KIC president Jay Haddad. “If someone says, we can’t afford to send our child to camp, the camp director spearheads the application process. The campership committee then looks at the application and makes a decision.”
KIC offers up to $500 a week to cover the cost of overnight camps and $300 a week to cover the cost of day camps. While families have to demonstrate need, Haddad notes, few are turned down. The majority of applications are accepted.
The benefits of camp
“We want to put as many kids in camp as possible,” says Haddad. “We think it provides an experience no child should miss out on.”
Haddad went to camp himself and witnessed its benefits first-hand. In fact, camp was a life-changer for him.
“Summer camp was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Here I am in my 70s and some of my best friends are still people I went to camp with. I loved everything about camp: the canoe trips, the bonding, and the activities like archery and kayaking.
And Haddad’s experience isn’t unusual: it’s reflective of what camp can provide. Camp isn’t just a place that offers a bunch of activities (though it normally does). It’s a place where kids form and build relationships based on common interests and abilities and where they gain a sense of themselves within a community of shared values. Many kids learn who they are and who they want to be at camp. And many also mature at camp in critical ways, for instance, by becoming more independent, resilient, and responsible.
Providing an inclusive environment
By helping subsidize the cost of camp for kids in need, KIC makes camp more accessible. It enables kids from various socioeconomic backgrounds to experience what all kids should be able to experience.
“We’re seeing a greater diversity of kids at camp now: kids from different places, with different ethnicities, and who have different experiences and upbringings,” says Haddad. And this enriches the camp experience. “In camp, kids are blind to their different backgrounds. They work together, they canoe together, they bond. Black, White, Jewish, Muslim—-it doesn’t matter. They’re all in this together.”
KIC helps to promote diversity in camp. And camps work hard to foster an inclusive environment in which all kids can thrive, have fun, and feel like they belong. This is something that’s hard to find in other settings. It’s also something you simply can’t put a price on.