The Sound Report on the New Rochelle Campership Fund - July 27, 2001
By Jessica Stepman
When the last school bell of the year rings, summer begins and kids are left to find something to do to fill their days. Many children go on family vacations or to camp. There are numerous families, though who cannot afford to send their kids to camp. These children end up playing in the streets or sitting in a hot apartment watching television. But, for the children of New Rochelle who's families cannot afford to send them to camps, playing in the streets and watching TV are not their only options thanks to the New Rochelle Campership Fund, Inc.
Founded in 1957, to provide needy children with a summer camp experience, the Campership Fund is a non-profit community agency that raises between $20,000 to $30,000 per year and helps about 500 New Rochelle kids per summer. The all volunteer Executive Board spends the year raising money. The money comes from about 385 contributors from New Rochelle and other surrounding towns.
The Campership Fund allocates funds to participating non-profit agencies based on their requests and the success of the fundraising effort. Families prove their neediness in terms of income and full or partial scholarships are then granted to each child.
A large amount of the Campership Fund's money goes to the New Rochelle Board of Education and the Community Action Agency. Other agencies that the Campership Fund allocates its money to are the Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle, the Girl Scouts of America, Camp Viva, Hope Community Services, the Martin Luther King Day Care Center and several others.
The money that the Campership Fund raises goes to many different camps. There are day camps and sleep away camps, as well as special camps for children with AIDS, diabetes, asthma and learning disabilities.
One of the camps that the Campership Fund is associated with is Camp Ward, located at Ward Elementary School in New Rochelle. Formally a drop in program, it is now a licensed camp. This is the first summer that the city of New Rochelle has sponsored a public camp since the closing of Camp Liberty in 1991.
Caryle Gulker, chairwoman of the Campership Fund, is extremely excited about the Ward Camp "New Rochelle is a wonderful city and we want kids to have a safe, fun place to be," she said. "It is important for kids to learn in a happy and safe environment" The Ward Camp has approximately 200 kids. Since becoming a licensed camp its quality has gone up gaining more counselors and more equipment. The camp is run by Director John Fogliano and costs $180 per camper for six weeks. Lunch is provided and the children get to go on eight field trips. There are many activities that the children get to participate in like roller-blading, sports, arts and crafts, swimming and the slip and slide. There is also a game room, a television and a VCR.
From the looks on the kids' faces, The Ward Camp seems to be a great success. While the six to eight year olds have to travel around with their counselors from activity to activity, the older kids have freedom to roam to the different activities within a certain boundary. With so many choices of what to do, the kids are never sitting around doing nothing. "The camp is real cool and the counselors are nice," said Matthew Gardner, 9 as he played cards with his friend Chukwuma Ezuma. The two met for the first time this summer at the Ward Camp.The camp has not just been a success for the kids. The counselors are also having a ball. "I love my kids" said first time counselor, Chris Earl, 19 of Mt. Vernon. "I actually think about them when I'm at home."
Another camp in New Rochelle that the Campership Fund is associated with is Camp Joy. Camp Joy is a day camp for children with disabilities and special education needs, located at New Rochelle High School. "The camping experience can be equated to all of life's lessons" said Caryle Gulker. She enjoys visiting the camps because she gets a feeling of joy when she sees how much fun the children are having.
Tax deductible contributions for the New Rochelle Campership Fund can be sent to New Rochelle Campership Fund, Inc., P.O. Box 255, New Rochelle, NY 10804