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Why This Major Funder Wants to Send More Kids to Summer Camp

April 11, 2024

Summer camp is the highlight of the year for many kids — sun-splashed days surrounded by trees and water and new friends for life; a safe, activity-filled home away from home. But summer camp is not an experience every kid gets to enjoy.

Camp Fire aims to provide many more children with a summer camp experience, and a six-year investment from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies is helping the organization do just that. The commitment has enabled Camp Fire to remove barriers and expand summer camp opportunities for a diverse population of young people.

“Camp Fire is at the forefront of this work — it is one of the leading camp organizations that is increasing access for populations that have historically been excluded,” said Yer Lor, program officer, Quality of Life at MACP. “That focus has been motivating for other peers in the sector to move forward in that work, as well. Their approach is in alignment with Margaret Cargill Philanthropies’ goal to create access and inclusion for all youth from all walks of life, to experience enrichment opportunities that will build character and community.”

Established in 1910 as Camp Fire Girls, Camp Fire has been co-ed since the mid-1970s and now has 1,300 program sites across the country, including school and afterschool programs. A number of those sites are specialty camps for children and youth “with diffeent (sic) abilities, backgrounds and financial resources,” according to the website. Specialty camps serve, for example, children on the spectrum, young people who’ve lost a loved one, LGBTQ2S+ young people, refugees and children of refugees, young people with disabilities, and children impacted by the criminal justice system.

“We’ve taken our statement of inclusion and our values and have continued to adapt that to meet the needs of young people where they are today,” said Camp Fire President Shawna Rosenzweig. “Camp Fire is for young people of all genders and all backgrounds. It’s a place where we can support them to thrive, to feel a sense of connection to the outdoors, to others and to themselves.”

Read more from this story at InsidePhilanthropy.com. Subsciption required. Story by Connie Matthiessen.  Photo Courtesy of Camp Fire.