Summer camp is a right of passage for many children – a chance for kids to play with friends and meet new ones, explore new activities that interest them, and learn new skills.
While most kids have the opportunity to enjoy this carefree, summertime tradition, it can be a luxury for children in the foster care system. Foster parents often can’t afford the additional cost required to attend.
That’s why Friends of Foster Children Forever works to provide the resources for over a hundred foster children in Collier County to attend day camps each summer. As part of its mission to offer academic and enrichment programs to some of the most vulnerable children in the community, the organization provides funding for foster children to attend camp(s) based on the needs of each foster child’s caregiver.
“Many of these children have never been to camp before,” said Ann Hughes, executive director of Friends of Foster Children Forever. “By attending, they get the chance to enjoy summertime adventures that they might not normally have.” Through the support of Friends of Foster Children Forever, caregivers can sign up foster children to attend summer day camps run by a number of Collier County resources, including the Parks and Recreation Department and Collier County Schools.
Area nonprofits, including the Boys and Girls Club in Naples and Immokalee, the Salvation Army, and area YMCA locations also offer camps. These camps provide kids with a variety of scheduled activities from arts and crafts, sports, swimming, and field trips.
Additionally, there are specialty camps for foster children who need academic tutoring, want to learn more about the arts, video
gaming, science and technology, or whose caregivers seek a faith-based experience for their foster child. Specialty sports camps
for everything from soccer to martial arts are also very popular among children. Overnight camps are an option, as well. Foster
children may participate in a camp for just one week or for the entire summer.
Most camps run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the weekdays and many offer before and after camp programs. There are camps for all age groups, from Pre-K through high school, throughout Collier County. “It’s not unusual for foster children to move often,” Hughes added. “Foster children may be getting ready to start at a new school, so summer camps allow them to make new friends and explore activities they might never have had the opportunity to try before.”
The support that Friends of Foster Children Forever provides caregivers can only be made possible by the generosity of donors. Camps cost anywhere from $25 to $100 a week. Adds Hughes, “The needs of Friends of Foster Children are year-round, but our summer camp program is one of the most important enrichment programs we offer. There’s nothing like seeing a foster child learn a new skill or make a new friend. The smiles on their faces tell it all. By helping a foster child attend summer camp, you’re helping them succeed in life.”
If you would like to make a donation or to learn more about the many programs Friends of Foster Children Forever offers, visit www.friendsoffosterchildren.net.