For families on a limited budget, summer camp is not always an option, unless some form of subsidy is available.
As West Shore co-ordinator of community club programs for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria, Krista Hagstrom knows this as well as anyone. She also knows that for some children, participating in organized summer activities can be one of the best ways to keep them away from negative influences.
As part of her duties, Hagstrom has overseen Boys and Girls Club’s summer camp in Metchosin the past few years. It’s what she calls a “specialty day camp,” with rock climbing, canoeing and archery among the activities offered.
“It is really hard for families over the summer, because these camps really add up,” she says.
Ordinarily the Summer Adventure Camp runs $200 per week for children five to eight or nine through 12. That’s on the upper end of affordability for some families, especially since the camp doesn’t qualify for child-care subsidies. But thanks to funding through the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, more children and youth have been able to participate, Hagstrom says.
“We were able to send about 30 kids to (the camp) last year,” she says. “We typically approach families on the West Shore who we know could use the support. It’s great when we can say ‘we know so and so might really enjoy this camp.’ Families are just so thankful to be given that kind of opportunity.”
The funding, raised through Jumpstart Day at area Canadian Tire stores – May 31 this year – and other fundraising events undertaken by the Greater Victoria Jumpstart committee, is also put toward other Boys and Girls Club programs, Hagstrom says.
They include after-school programs, where children are picked up from schools around the region, including Sangster, David Cameron and Millstream elementaries and Spencer middle school, and driven to the outdoor centre in Metchosin.
“All the research points to kids being most vulnerable between 3 and 6 p.m.” she says of the hours after school and before parents get home from work.
“Our youth are facing conditions of risk. Any child can be at risk because of peer pressure and we definitely engage our more vulnerable children.”
View Royal Canadian Tire franchisee Kim Reynhoudt says while donations collected from customers on national Jumpstart Day are important, even more so is bringing in the community partners for the public to meet and hear about their programs.
“We’ve found that creating more awareness in the community was more important than raising funds on that day,” he says.
The Greater Victoria group donates a substantial amount of money to the local campaign through the year through various events and activities, Reynhoudt adds.
Langford store franchisee Tim Currie said his staff really get behind the campaign, decorating the store windows with thousands of little Jumpstart posters, emblematic of $2 donations from customers.
“All that money goes right back into the community, to soccer clubs and ball clubs to help any child who is trying to get involved (but whose family may not be able to afford it),” he says.
For more on Boys and Girls Club’s Metchosin summer camps, visit bgcvic.org and click on camps for kids and teens.
For more information on Jumpstart, visit jumpstart.canadiantire.ca or stop by your local store.