A Generous Helping: Camp Scholarships Make Summer Fun Affordable | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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A Generous Helping: Camp Scholarships Make Summer Fun Affordable


Published April 3, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 4, 2022 at 8:09 p.m.

  • Hatiye Garip

Hannah Bogard, director of YWCA Vermont Camp Hochelaga in South Hero, remembers a particularly enthusiastic camper from last summer. The 12-year-old girl "was so full of energy and excitement," ready to take on new experiences like kayaking and performing arts, and always surrounded by a pack of friends. Her family also happened to be homeless. Camp Hochelaga was able to provide her with a full scholarship to attend the overnight, all-girls camp on the shores of Lake Champlain for a week, an opportunity Bogard said "allowed her family to know she was well cared for while they went through this challenging spot where they were trying to make ends meet." The camper will be returning this summer.

Camp Hochelaga's Circle of Girls scholarship fund provides full and partial scholarships to more than 50 girls annually, amounting to around $35,000. A base of private donors — mostly camp alumnae— support the fund. Families sending their kids to camp can also choose to support the fund by paying slightly higher tuition. The fund has been around since the camp started in 1919, says Bogard, but in recent years it's become a priority for camp leadership. This summer, they hope to provide scholarships to 70 campers.

  • Hatiye Garip

Families who are eligible through the state for free or reduced lunch, and who can show documentation of their current financial standing, qualify for between a 75 percent and full camp scholarship. They still pay a $50 deposit. Hochelaga also provides some financial assistance to families who may not meet free or reduced lunch qualifications but who, says Bogard, "may not be making enough money to spend hundreds of dollars on summer camp."

Scholarships are first-come, first-served, and the application is part of the online registration process. Children in foster care automatically qualify for a full scholarship, says Bogard, and every summer around eight to 10 foster kids attend Hochelaga.

Bogard shared testimonials from families who benefited from scholarships. "At home, I don't get this much kindness. The counselors and my cabinmates help me and make me feel welcomed and happy here," one Circle of Girls scholarship recipient wrote. "I will really miss this camp when I leave and I hope I can come back next year."

Families can approach camps directly to ask if they have scholarships, says Ellen Flight, president of the Vermont Camp Association. Here is a sampling of local camps that offer financial assistance.

  • Hatiye Garip

The Community Sailing Center in Burlington offers partial scholarships for youth camps. Apply here: communitysailingcenter.org/csc-mcconnell-scholarship/

YMCA Camp Abnaki in North Hero provides more than $45,000 in financial assistance to approximately 100 campers every summer. The majority of their scholarships are partial, with the average family receiving financial assistance for half of the camp fee. Families can apply for financial assistance online at campabnaki.org or by completing a paper application. The camp works with school guidance counselors, social workers and family advocates to help families attend camp at a cost that they can afford, adds camp director Jon Kuypers.

YMCA Camp Jordan in Ellsworth, Maine awards scholarships based on family income and number of children in the household. It offers full scholarships to military families. Find scholarship forms here: campjordan.org/scholarships

Circus Smirkus Camp in Greensboro offers a limited number of partial scholarships to its circus-centered camp, based on families' income or other financial circumstances. Find scaholarship applications at smirkus.org/smirkus-camp.

  • Hatiye Garip

FlynnArts in Burlington offers full and partial scholarships for its performing arts camps. Find the scholarship application at flynncenter.wufoo.com/forms/qpi28x61su35kk/ or email Sarah Caliendo at flynnarts@flynncenter.org for a paper application.

Honest Yoga in South Burlington offers $50-$75 discounts on a case-by-case basis. Contact honestyogastudio@gmail.com for more information.

Rock Point Camp in Burlington offers full and partial scholarships based on need. Parents can contact camp director Rev. Sherry Osborn at sosborn@dioceseofvermont.org or 658-6233. Visit rockpointvt.org/camp to donate to the scholarship fund.

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains has a Girl Assistance Fund, which awarded girls in Vermont and New Hampshire more than $96,000 in 2017. Learn more about the program here: girlscoutsgwm.org/en/donate/fund_a_girl.html. Contact Tricia Casey, director of fund development, at pcasey@girlscoutsgwm.org or 888-474-9686 for more information.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.