Press release from Camplify:
Campers come from around the globe to enjoy our beautiful mountain community each June, July, and August. The 55 residential summer camps throughout Western NC generate more annual revenue than our apple orchards or even the Biltmore Estate. But in addition to adding over $365 million dollars to our economy through camper-tourism, regional camps have quietly done something else: served over 3,000 local youth for decades.
Youth learn leadership at camp, like a Henderson County student who learned, “I am brave and smart and can do more than what I think I can.” A parent of two middle school students said, “My children are getting to experience something amazing that we would never be able to afford. Camplify is helping form them into well-rounded, responsible young adults.”
Nowadays, twenty four overnight camps provide “camperships” to local young leaders through Camplify each summer. They understand that camp can change a life, and donated over $120,000 of camperships to families this spring. Then, COVID-19 changed everything. Only 39% of camps nationwide plan to operate this summer. Instead of young leaders packing for residential camp, cancellations started to trickle in. Of the 197 youth enrolled in Camplify, 90 are seeking summer options after their camp doors closed.
Kristin Dunn, Camplify Executive Director, explains, “Last week the phone rang. The voice on the other line expressed that her 11 year old son came to her and said that he had no friends. He has nothing to look forward to all day. And he’s tired, and he’s lonely. He is not okay.” This 11 year old still has weeks of summer break, but his mental health needs must be addressed now. “His mother asked, ‘Summer is just around the corner. Is there anything Camplify can do for my son?’”
Meanwhile, day camps such as Historic Johnson Farm have been working to serve children in this unprecedented time. Due to a generous donation, they’ve offered three-day camp scholarships for young leaders whose overnight camps were cancelled. The Community Foundation of Henderson County and United Way of Henderson County supplied an emergency COVID-19 grant of $10,000 to kick this campaign off, providing 40 day camp scholarships. Muddy Sneakers, the Hendersonville Family YMCA, Fletcher Park, and Camp Tekoa plan to operate day camps and desire to offer opportunities for local young leaders. This news gives families hope: perhaps our community would provide the additional $10,000 of funds to support the remaining displaced campers.
Camplify urges community members to provide for our neighbor kids in need. Day camp costs an average of $250 per week. This is a price that many local families cannot afford, though their children are in need of camp now more than ever in our history. Camplify is collecting funds to provide day camp to each displaced camper. 100% of donations will go to sending a kid to day camp. There are just 45 kids left to send to camp.