Summer camp has been a saviour to Cory Olsen.
A father of two, Olsen and his partner both work full-time to make ends meet. So when school gets out for summer break each year, the couple are left scrambling to find childcare for sons Chase, 12, and Edan, 6.
The Olsens rely on their community centre to provide affordable child and youth programs, but as is the case with many young families in Victoria, the costs can sometimes be a barrier.
For the past three years, Chase has spent his summers at Camp Blanshard, a subsidized summer camp put on by the Blanshard Community Centre for families like the Olsens.
“We’ve done the program for over a decade. It’s been really important for those children and youth who wouldn’t normally get a camp opportunity,” said Kelly Greenwell, the community centre’s executive director.
The centre relies on federal summer student grants to hire necessary staff and keep costs low, but this year they received only one of two expected grants.
“What we’ve run into this year is we’re having to max it at 12 participants unless we can get some additional contributions from community members and other supportive businesses,” Greenwell said.
Camp Blanshard has the capacity to bring in 20 children and youth each week between the ages of five to 12.
“It’s been very good for Chase and for us,” Olsen said. “He gets lots of good experiences, adventures. They get to go dragon-boating, they get to do out-trips to Elk Lake and Beaver Lake, they visit multiple water parks in the city.”
The program costs $65 per child each week, but Greenwell said sponsors are also being sought out for less fortunate families.
“They can either sponsor a day, a week or a three-week session for a child or youth. It means their families don’t have to go through the disappointment of not being able to send their kid to camp,” he said.
Olsen said Chase has made lasting friends through Camp Blanshard, something he’s sure will happen for Edan as well.
“I’ve seen the effect firsthand. I think it would be huge, I think there’s way more kids out there that need to be involved,” he said.
To donate or find out more about Camp Blanshard, visit www.blanshardcc.com.