Giving every child a safe and meaningful summer
The Bergen County Summer Campership Fund is a scholarship program to send children from lower-income working families that live in Bergen County to local day camps. Contributions to the fund provide children with life-shaping experiences in a safe and healthy environment.
Hundreds of working families in Bergen County are unable to afford summer day camp for their school-age children. As a result, many of these children spend their summers home alone, putting their safety in jeopardy, and wasting a time when others are exploring and growing in a productive, healthy, memorable way.
At the beginning, receipt and management of contributions to the Summer Campership Fund were run by the Bergen County Office for Children. That role has been assumed by Bergen Volunteers a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
While the Bergen County Division of Children is the determining agency for eligibility, The Bergen Volunteers is the fiscal agent for this fund.
On those steamy summer weeks when schools are closed, do you know where Bergen County's school-aged children are?
Although many children are being supervised by stay-at-home parents, or in summer day camp (if their parents are at work), many vulnerable youngsters are not so lucky.
While Bergen County is often considered to be affluent, in fact, hundreds of children are in danger--alone in the summer because their lower-income working families can't afford tuition for day camp, where their children would be cared for while they are in work.
Many such children are on long waiting lists for financial assistance that never comes. As a result, they end up spending an unproductive, unsupervised, dangerous summer at home ALONE.
Those Summer days
In 1994, recognizing the need of lower-income families to ensure their children were in a safe, healthy, fun environment in the summer, a few volunteers led by Kay Gellert, with a major boost from the County of Bergen, and the Bergen Volunteers, established the Summer Campership Fund.
Since 1996, the Summer Campership Fund has been supported by entities such as Hackensack University Medical Center, The Robert Swartz Memorial Fund. The Wolfeiler-Simon Fund, Women's Clubs, Senior Adult Clubs, the American Legion and Russ Berrie and Company.
The Fund's collaboration with the National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section, Computer Insights, Bergen County Council of Churches, Todd Ouida Children's Foundation, Citibank and School Age Child Care has helped the Fund grow.
Joan Cooper, of the National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section, currently chairs the committee that coordinates the Fund's operations.