Summer camp is a time-honored tradition for lots of kids but, without financial assistance, children in need or those from low-income families might not have the opportunity to attend one. A number of city-run and nonprofit programs in Florida make up the difference so that all kids get an equal shot at summer fun.
Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA
YMCA facilities in the Tampa area offer a variety of summer camp options including a basic day camp experience, day camps with a specialty focus, aquatics and gymnastic camps for teens, preschool and adaptive camps for younger and special needs kids, and adventures at unique destinations. Most camps include breakfast and lunch as well as before and after supervision for caregivers who drop their kids off early or pick them up late.
Need-based financial assistance is available on a sliding scale determined by the family’s income. Keep in mind that you must apply for financial aid before registering your children for summer camp, and that a limited number of spaces are available in each camp for low-income kids.
The Salvation Army
Part of the Salvation Army’s mission is to help children and families thrive through afterschool programs, community centers with after school and recreational opportunities and summer camps. Summer camps for low-income children provide a safe place for kids to experience the outdoors through activities like camping and swimming and to get to know other kids whose situations may be similar to theirs. Camp counselors are trained to give children the coping skills they’ll need when they return home. Use the search form on the Salvation Army’s website to find a program near you.
City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department
The City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department opens registration for its R.E.C. and specialty summer camps in February. R.E.C. camp is a traditional 10-week, full day summer experience that includes crafts, games and activities like field trips. Specialty camps last from a few days to two weeks. Each camping period focuses on a single activity, such as aquatics, sports or art.
Kids 17 and younger who live in the city and can demonstrate financial need are eligible for scholarships. Check for scholarship applications around the time registration opens.
Camp Boggy Creek
Income is no barrier for kids attending Camp Boggy Creek. Created specifically for children with serious illnesses, the camp near Orlando is open year-round and charges no fees. Overnight summer camp sessions, open to about 150 children and family members, focus on fun. At the same time, they empower children to overcome and forget what they might perceive as disabilities with projects and activities like fishing and horseback riding. Medical staff is available if your child needs medication or emergency treatment. Kids 17-18 who have been campers at Boggy Creek are invited to return for a one-week Leader in Training Program.
- child image by Vaida from Fotolia.com