490 Baltimore-Area Children Head to Summer Camp Thanks to Fresh Air Fund at BCF

June 07, 2017

490 children in the Baltimore region are attending a summer camp this year after Baltimore Community Foundation awarded $139,980 to 24 regional camps from The Children’s Fresh Air Society Fund. 

Since 1890, The Children’s Fresh Air Society Fund has made it possible for children in the region to gain the benefits of a summer camp experience. Each year the fund awards “camperships”—scholarships which help defray the cost of camp fees and tuition—for disadvantaged and disabled Baltimore-area children to go to camp.

This year, camps receiving funding range from day camps that explore the wonders of the Chesapeake Bay to traditional residential camps that feature fun fare like kayaking, ropes courses and camping for children of all ages and backgrounds. 

One frequent grant recipient from the Children’s Fresh Air Society is St. Vincent de Paul’s Camp St. Vincent, which provides homeless children from the area with a camp experience. 

“We see first-hand the tremendous benefits Camp St. Vincent has on children who are experiencing the trauma of being homeless,” said John Schiavone, St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore President and CEO. “Along with traditional camp experiences such as swimming, art, music, and athletics, our camp offers reading and math curriculum to stem the summer learning loss that is so prevalent among children who are homeless, and a social-emotional curriculum specifically designed to help them cope with the trauma of homelessness.”

Grant recipient Patterson Park Audubon Center’s Summer Urban Naturalist camp provides enriching programs including environmental studies, horticultural studies, ecological restoration and leadership development. It also hires local high school students as camp counselors to provide further employment and leadership opportunities to local youth. 

“Doing things like insect investigations and fishing is an experience the campers will always remember,” says Ashley, a high school student camp counselor. “When they get involved with the environment, they’ll say, ‘my love of nature started here.’” 

In 1890, the Children’s Fresh Air Society was formed, and arranged for 53 chronically-ill children to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of the Maryland countryside. In the 126 summers since, the group’s generosity has made it possible for thousands of children to experience summer camp. In 1990, the Children’s Fresh Air Society was entrusted to the Baltimore Community Foundation and has since distributed more than $2.9 million to enable Baltimore-area children to attend camps.

“For over a century, the Children’s Fresh Air Society has a proud tradition of helping children experience the outdoors,” says Tom Wilcox, BCF President and CEO. “There may be no better way for children to learn how to build strong relationships with both their environment and each other than a summer camp experience. We at BCF are proud to carry on the mission of the Society with the support of generous donors from across Baltimore."

The 2017 Children’s Fresh Air Society Fund grantees include:

The Arc Baltimore, Bay Buddies - $4,880 / 10 campers
Bay Buddies is a day camp and educational enrichment program for children with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities hosted by the Living Classrooms Foundation. Activities are tailored to the specific needs of each child and include sailing, horseback riding, swimming and much more. About half of the campers are drawn from the student bodies of four partner schools: Battle Monument and Maiden Choice Schools in Baltimore County, and William S. Baer and George W.F. McMechen in Baltimore City. 

Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Opequon Quaker Camp $4,350 / 3 campers
Rooted in nature and celebrating our connections to the earth and to one another, this traditional summer camp experience features art projects, carpentry activities, co-operative games, swimming in the pool, and exploring in the creek.

The Door/Baltimore Urban Leadership Foundation, Generation E4 Summer Camp - $6,000 / 60 campers
Science and technology instruction are the hallmarks of this six-week day camp for students who attend Commodore John Rodgers Elementary-Middle School, Tench Tilghman Elementary/Middle School, and Patterson Park Public Charter School. Campers engage in hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning projects that foster critical thinking, cooperative learning and problem solving.

Baltimore-Washington Conference United Methodist Church, Manidokan and West River camps - $5,000 / 23 campers
These one-week residential camps serve children ages 7-18 at two Maryland sites. Both locations offer swimming, boating, water sports, arts and crafts, hiking, nature study and youth leadership activities.

Camp Holiday Trails - $5,000 / 10 campers
This 2-week traditional, rustic camp experience for children with special health needs features fishing, canoeing, swimming, archery, sports, challenge courses, and more. Camp staff ensure that activities are adapted to meet the differing abilities of campers. 

Camp Opportunity - $12,600 / 14 campers
This week-long residential camp serves children ages 7-11 who have been abused or neglected. Daily activities include swimming, computer games, fishing, outdoor games, a ropes course, arts and crafts, and canoeing, and are geared toward building self-esteem, goal setting, working as a team, and overcoming personal challenges.

Camp Pecometh - $6,000 / 12 campers
This five-day residential camp serves young people recruited through the Baltimore Department of Social Services and the Baltimore City Public Schools. Camp activities include canoeing, swimming, sailing, arts and crafts, singing, horseback riding and nature education.

Camp Possibilities - $7,750 / 10 campers
This five-day residential camp in Darlington serves children with diabetes and focuses on teaching children about healthy living, as well as offering traditional camp activities like swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, sports and talent shows. 

Camp Puh’tok for Girls and Boys - $4,500 / 4 campers
This two-week residential camp in Monkton serves youth ages 7-12 from diverse economic backgrounds. Campers enjoy a variety of traditional camp activities, including archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, hiking and tent camping.

Camp Rock - $5,000 / 10 campers
This two-week day camp in Baltimore County serves children from the Baltimore area from a variety of backgrounds, including children in crisis situations. Camp activities include reading, painting, environmental science, horsemanship, singing, sports and nature walks.

Cylburn Arboretum Association, Cylburn Nature Science Summer Camp - $2,500 / 10 campers 
This five-day long day camp in Baltimore focuses on science and the natural environment. Using the resources within the arboretum and in Druid Hill Park, campers get to explore their surroundings and learn about physics, plants, animals, and participate in fun activities that usually revolve around an age-appropriate theme. 

Echo Hill Outdoor School, Summer Explore Program, Baltimore Second Look - $5,962 / 14 campers
The Baltimore Second Look Program is a four-day residential camp that offers youngsters from Baltimore City Public Schools the opportunity to come to Echo Hill Outdoor School during the summer to build on the positive experiences they had during their visit for outdoor education during the school year. All participating students are identified by their teachers as promising students who would benefit from this fun and educational experience.

Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center $2,500 / 8 campers
At this Parkton-based day and overnight camp, youth up to 8th grade enjoy a variety of activities, including, hiking swimming, canoeing, fishing, archery and a ropes course.

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, GSCM Building a Better World $2,500 / 13 campers
This traditional scout camp recruits girls from Baltimore’s Title 1 schools, and includes a variety of traditional and educational camp activities built on three keys: girl-led, collaborative learning and learn by doing.

Hampden Family Center, Summer Enrichment Camp - $5,738 / 5 campers
This six-week long day camp is located at Roosevelt Recreation Center in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City. Campers will take taekwondo classes, visit local art museums, participate in a science program and plant a garden in partnership with the Hampden-based Free Food Farm. 

Helping Up Mission, Camp Wabanna - $7,500 / 15 campers
Camp Wabanna’s residential camps provide an environment in which children and teenagers can benefit from both personal relationships and one-on-one interaction, and a wide variety of team building activities and events such as group games, low and high element challenge courses, boating and tubing, sailing and kayaking.

League for People with Disabilities, Camp Greentop - $9,000 / 5 campers
Camp Greentop is a weeklong residential experience which offers a variety of traditional camp activities that provide both educational and recreational enrichment opportunities which help individuals with disabilities to grow socially, emotionally, academically and physically while enjoying the healing qualities of nature.

National Aquarium in Baltimore, Henry Hall Week on the Bay Camp - $4,840 / 8 campers
During this day camp for 11-12 year-olds, campers canoe through a wetland marsh, sail aboard a skipjack, and restore oyster habitat at Phillips Wharf Environmental Center. By the program’s conclusion, participants will be introduced to sailing etiquette and canoeing skills and gain an understanding of the life cycle and conservation needs of the iconic blue crab and eastern oyster species. 

Notre Dame Preparatory, Camp Umoja - $3,300 / 36 campers
This two-week residential camp brings Baltimore children to the campus of Notre Dame Preparatory, where NDP, Calvert Hall and Loyola Blakefield students serve as counselors. Campers take part in a variety of educational and recreational activities. 

Patterson Park Audubon Center, Summer Urban Naturalist - $6,371 / 100 campers
This five-week day camp in Baltimore’s Patterson Park draws campers from Hampstead Hill Academy in southeast Baltimore. Many campers speak English as a second language. The camp focuses on enriching programs including environmental studies, horticultural studies, ecological restoration and leadership development.

Power House Community of Christ Church, Chesapeake Bay Mission Center Youth Camp - $5,000 / 20 campers
Power House’s one-week residential camp draws in many campers of various ages from the area in and around Southwest Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood. Many recreational and enriching activities are offered during the camp, including wildlife history, problem solving, fishing and sports. Staff at the camp are trained to respond to students’ unique emotional and social needs.

St. Vincent de Paul, Camp St. Vincent - $18,445 / 85 campers
Camp St. Vincent is an eight-week day camp located in Patterson Park in Southeast Baltimore. It provides a supervised environment with academic, therapeutic and enrichment programming for children ages 5-14 from homeless families from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The program is specifically designed to address the impact of homelessness on academic, social and emotional development with a structured reading and math curriculum, social skills groups and cultural enrichment activities.

Talisman Therapeutic Riding, TTR Summer Camp - $3,000 / 6 campers
Talisman Therapeutic Riding offers weeklong camps at its Graysonville location: one for campers with physical or cognitive disabilities and another for youth who are able-bodied and “at-risk”. Campers ages learn basic equine skills including grooming, tack use/care, leading and riding. Campers also learn basic horticultural skills and participate in planting and growing vegetables and flowers, working with dirt, seeds, water and the sun.

Woodberry Crossing, Camp Crossing - $2,000 / 10 campers
Located on a 100-acre farm in Parkton, Maryland, this camp provides opportunities for low-income Baltimore City children to spend a week exploring and learning from nature. Campers also get to experience the outdoors through activities like hiking, cycling and swimming. 

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