The Rapidian

Camp O’Malley aiming to achieve another successful summer in 2010

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2009 Camp O'Malley camper gets ready to go fishing on the Thornapple River.

2009 Camp O'Malley camper gets ready to go fishing on the Thornapple River. /Derek Plumb, Camp O'Malley Summer Staff '08

Camp O'Malley's dining room, where youth gather for three meals a day during each session of summer camp.

Camp O'Malley's dining room, where youth gather for three meals a day during each session of summer camp.

Camp O'Malley camper attempting to conquer the camp's climbing wall, one of the many fun, outdoor activities available!

Camp O'Malley camper attempting to conquer the camp's climbing wall, one of the many fun, outdoor activities available!

Despite the completion of another successful summer, Camp O’Malley’s camper attendance numbers dropped a little over two percent this year. The number of youth attending in 2009 was 484, while in 2008 there were 495 campers. Although, this drop does not echo the serious downturn felt by most businesses and organizations.


“Obviously, the need for our camp is still there,” said Executive Director Patrick Gunnin. “Parents still want to send their children to camp despite the hard economic times.”

Even though parents still want to provide a summer camp experience for their children, the funding needed to make this a reality for the at-risk population served by Camp O’Malley is not. In 2009, 92% of Camp O’Malley campers financially qualified (living at or below the poverty line) to receive a camper scholarship. This in turn meant that the majority of campers were being funded by sources other than their families' income. With such a high population of campers being unable to afford summer camp, outside funding is absolutely necessary to provide a summer camp experience to these youth.

In May, the State of Michigan cut nearly $40,000 of the funds received from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds allocated to the camp. Camp O’Malley was just beginning a three-year contract with the State of Michigan to receive $126,500 each year when the contract was terminated at the end of June.

Since the end of camp, efforts to secure new funds have become the number one priority for the camp. “We are looking for alternative ways to pay our summer staff, attract new donors, and implement various special events to help raise the funds necessary,” said Gunnin.

Camp O’Malley is not the only camp struggling in this area. Blodgett, Mel Trotter, and Tall Turf also serve at-risk youth with particular attention to the Grand Rapids population and are struggling to find the funds to keep their camps open. In fact, Camp Mel Trotter has reported that they will not open their camp in 2010 because of the lack of funding.

“There are many kids who attend all four camps during the summer,” said Director of Camp O’Malley Becky Reed. “And next year, there will be one less camp that will be there to offer a safe place where kids can receive three meals a day, enriching outdoor programs, opportunities to meet new friends, and experience new things.”

To combat the harsh economy, Camp O’Malley, Blodgett and Tall Turf have teamed up to work with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation to brainstorm ways to raise summer camp funding. The current focus is on marketing and researching alternative funding sources to assure the operation of these important camps for Grand Rapids youth.

“We are excited to start these collaborations,” said Reed. “I believe that this will not only help us in the short-term but also in the long-run.”

For donation or volunteer opportunities with Camp O'Malley, please contact Becky Reed at (616) 233-9370x106 or [email protected]!


Article written by Sara Schneider & Becky Reed


 

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