In normal times, camp is already invaluable for kids of all backgrounds. Camp provides opportunities for problem solving, learning together, meeting new people, and navigating social interactions in a relaxed and fun setting and, most importantly, outside of the house.
Last summer, children were coming out of a school year marked by an unnatural life of screens, quarantines, and hybrid schooling. It is safe to say that summer camp was beacon of hope, a lifeline towing them back to their normal selves.
“I think camp is more than getting a little sun, more than having a little fun. It’s intentional, purposeful play that you can’t find anywhere else,” explains Kate Corey, Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes chief development officer. “While playing shoulder to shoulder, campers learn how to do life together and care for one another. The essence of camp is in the friendships forged, something we all lacked and craved due to the pandemic.”
Sebastian, age 17, who received a scholarship to attend the Brigade’s Camp Onaway for the first time last summer reflects that, “Camp was not only a good learning experience for life skills but also for my mind. I felt at peace at camp and full of love.”
Caregivers saw their kids come back from Camp Nan A Bo Sho more confident and with a willingness to try things they have never done before. “My child learned how to become more independent and how to work through some of her anxiety of being away from her parents,” shares one parent. “Because my grandson was the oldest of the group of three camp friends, he was able to lead in many activities. With an older brother, he doesn’t always have that opportunity,” adds a grandparent.
For some families, the fees to attend overnight camp can put the experience out of reach. The Hiwela Youth Fund within the Community Foundation helps to remove this barrier. More than 360 youth from Winnebago County received nearly $30,000 in scholarships to experience the magic of camping in summer 2021 at:
- Camp Anokijig, Plymouth
- Camp Birch Trails, Irma – Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lake
- Camp Onaway, Waupaca – Boys’ & Girls Brigade
- Camp Radford, Weyauwega – Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh
- Camp Nan A Bo Sho, Lakewood – YMCA of the Fox Cities
- Camp Wawbeek, Wisconsin Dells – Easter Seals Wisconsin
- Camp Winni-Y-Co, Oshkosh – Oshkosh Community YMCA
- Trees for Tomorrow, Eagle River
- Upham Woods 4-H Camp, Wisconsin Dells
- Wisconsin Badger Camp, Platteville
The Hiwela Youth Fund was established in 1995 through the generosity of the Winnebagoland Council of Camp Fire to support youth-related programs and activities focusing on camping, environmental education and outdoor learning experiences. To date, the fund has awarded 565 grants totaling $1,440,000.