I grew up on a farm in Missouri (see this post for a piece of my past) before I moved on to city life and I cherish my childhood memories of roaming through fields and forests and wish that all kids could have the opportunity to experience life in a natural, safe environment. I am also a self-professed summer camp fanatic that depended on summer camp for all my summertime social activities (the isolation of a farm can be a bit intense for eight weeks of no school) when I was growing up.
Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend one of five Fresh Air Fund camps.
Through The Fund’s Friendly Town program, close to 5,000 children visit volunteer host families each summer in rural and suburban communities and 3,000 children enjoy themselves at one of the five Fresh Air camps in upstate New York.
I just finished signing my two oldest (7 and 9) for their first trip to sleepaway camp. They are both so excited (and maybe a wee bit nervous) to get to spend two whole weeks immersed in nature, swimming, archery, and kids upon kids upon kids. :) And I can tell you, it is not cheap to provide this for your kids. The camp my kids are going to is pretty reasonable (when comparing it to the one a few town over that is $4700 for four weeks: what the... ??) but it is still a price that would be unattainable for a lot of kids. So I am amazed that the Fresh Air Fund is able to provide camp experiences for 3,000 kids a summer!
I know times are tight, but I hope that some of you will be able to make a contribution to this worthwhile cause. Every dollar adds up!
If you live near New York State in the US or Canada, you can also sign up to be a host family:
Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster they would like to host.For more information, please see the Fresh Air Fund website. This link will take you to their press relese pages that provide banners and buttons, if you would like to help out by spreading the word in your blog. :)
Thank you so much for considering this thoughtful organization. It makes me feel so good that I might be able to help them out a little bit by telling you about them.