Help a child enjoy the wonders of summer camp

Rose Campbell, Caitlynne Hynes, Cherise Dupuis and Cindy Croy from the Salvation

For underprivileged children, the dream of experiencing summer camp often goes unfulfilled.

That's why for the third year in a row the Salvation Army Thrift Stores are running their Canada-wide Send a Kid to Camp fundraiser. The goal is to help deserving and underprivileged children enjoy nature, participate in sports, make new friends, learn new skills and have fun.

"Many of the children who attend Salvation Army summer camps are escaping abusive and neglectful family situations or their families simply cannot afford the luxury of sending them to camp," said Tanisha Dunkley, the Salvation Army's Eastern Canada regional marketing coordinator.

"Most of the kids reside in urban areas where running in a field and diving into a clean lake on a hot summer day is nothing more than a dream."

From April 2 to May 12, Salvation Army Thrift Stores are accepting donations for the summer camp initiative. It costs $220 to send one child to camp for a week.

Last year, the Atlantic provinces raised $8,465 and sent 38 kids to summer camp for one week.

Nova Scotia's thrift stores, all of which are in HRM, raised $6,160. That was enough to send 28 children to camp.

"We hear numerous anecdotes from staff and volunteers that work with the Salvation Army Camping Ministries about the impact that the summer camp experience has on the lives of children and their families," Dunkley said.

"We hear that kids that go to the camps leave with big smiles and transformed lives simply because they've had an opportunity to experience a safe and supportive environment with no expectations other than to just have fun and be kids."

One single mother who posted her online story about the Salvation Army's summer camp outlined the impact the experience had on her children.

"The camp experience was life-changing for the kids. There was no discrimination between poor kids and middle class kids. They came home better equipped to deal with life's challenges and, even at a young age, set some personal goals," the mother recalled.

"Our entire family benefited from The Salvation Army's camping program."

Dunkley said any donation to the Send a Kid to Camp initiative, big or small, is gratefully accepted at any thrift store location.

Published on April 17, 2012. Written by Yvette d'Entremont for the Halifax Weekly News.