$30,000 helps kids enjoy summer camp

Published 12:06 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

LULING — United Way of St. Charles has granted $30,000 in scholarships to families participating in the St. Charles Parish Parks and Recreation Department Inclusive Summer Day Camp.

Through the grant, United Way is sending 98 children from St. Charles Parish to summer camp, including 61 first-time campers.

The Inclusive Summer Day Camp is a six-week program offered to children ages 5-15. The camp includes field trips, games, arts and crafts, swimming and fun educational activities.

Courtney Galbreath, advocate supervisor for CASA in St. Charles Parish, knows the importance of this scholarship opportunity, especially for a child who has never participated in camp before.

“I was so excited to share the news with my Advocate that one of her CASA children would be receiving a United Way of St. Charles Summer Camp Scholarship this year,” Galbreath said. “I think her exact response was ‘Ahhhh! You’ve made my day, and I can’t wait to tell her.’”

Galbreath explains, “the little girl has come from a very volatile and dysfunctional background. She is living with an older relative so she does not get to do too much in the summer time. She was thrilled to learn that she would get to go to camp every day and have lunch with her friends. When her Advocate told her, her eyes lit up and she got this beautiful smile on her face and began to giggle and finally said, ‘Really? I get to go every day?’ We cannot thank United Way enough for extending this scholarship to her.”

The idea for the brand-new United Way of St. Charles Summer Camp Scholarship Program came after community forums identified additional summer activities for youth as one of the major current needs in St. Charles Parish.

Community members, church pastors, local government officials, industry representatives and educators attended the series of forums as part of United Way of St. Charles’ strategic planning goals.

“The response to this year’s Summer Camp Scholarships has been overwhelming,” said Kacy Kernan, director of community impact for United Way of St. Charles. “We were able to fill all of our open spots at Lakewood, St. Rose, Schoeffner and Luling Elementary Schools in less than a month. We’ve heard from parents what a huge help these scholarships have been, sometimes allowing a child to attend camp who would have not been able to otherwise.”

This year’s need-based scholarship was open to all St. Charles Parish residents and is made possible by the generosity of United Way of St. Charles donors.