Children’s Foundation seeks donations for ‘Kids to Camp’ campaign

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington is hoping to send as many kids to camp as possible this summer, but it’s looking for the public’s support to get them there.

“We’re helping families who would be considered very low income and who would never be able to afford to send kids to camp,” said Children’s Foundation executive director Karyn Kirkwood.

The foundation recently kicked off its Kids to Camp Campaign with the goal of raising at least $50,000, an amount Kirkwood said is enough to send roughly 250 kids to camp for a week this summer.

“Honestly, I’d like to raise more than that, but at the very least that’s what we’d like to raise,” said Kirkwood.

The campaign will run for the next few weeks, and Skyline Group of Companies is currently matching donations from the public, up to $25,000, to help reach the goal faster.

“Youth are Canada’s future, and by supporting community organizations and programs, we can help create a meaningful, positive impact and ensure that all children have the opportunity to explore, learn, and thrive,” Skyline co-founder and chief sustainability officer Jason Ashdown stated in a news release announcing the campaign.

Kirkwood said Sean Mulligan, president at SM Polymers, gave the campaign a boost by donating $5,000 to help send kids in the Centre Wellington area to camp.

The funds benefit the Children’s Foundation’s Free to Grow program, which also provides funds for kids to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, dance and arts programs. Support is even available for things like leadership training, babysitting courses or driver’s education, said Kirkwood.

But camp is one of the biggest things the program funds, she said.

Last year, it paid for camp for nearly 400 children. This year, the foundation already has more than 230 applications for camp funding – 43 of which came in just in the past few days, Kirkwood said on May 24.

“The applications have doubled compared to where we were last year at this time,” she said.

If the organization doesn’t raise enough money, there will be a waiting list for funding, she said.

“There is nothing worse than saying, ‘No, you can’t go,’” said Kirkwood.

“Attending summer camp makes a tangible difference for kids,” stated Courtney Didier, director of camp administration and communications at the YMCA of Three Rivers, in an email to the Advertiser.

The Y provides several camps in the county, and partners with various organizations, including the Children’s Foundation, to address financial barriers to sending kids to camp.

Camp experience

Didier called the camp experience “powerful and life-enriching” for kids, who get the chance to make new friends, learn new skills, connect to nature and more.

She also highlighted the value of camp to parents. 

For parents, camp is a safe, supervised environment while parents are at work, Didier stated.

“For working parents and caregivers, camp helps maintain a balance by ensuring their children are engaged in meaningful activities during the summer months,” she said, listing socialization and developmental support as other benefits.

Kirkwood noted the camp experience can be even more special for kids from families that struggle financially.

“For kids that are living in poverty, they don’t get to go on a summer vacation,” said Kirkwood. “At least summer camp feels like a holiday for them.”

She said the foundation is working on returning to its pre-pandemic levels – when it would typically fund camp for about 500 kids.

People can learn more about the Kids to Camp campaign and make a donation on the foundation’s website,, where there is currently a link on the homepage.

Kirkwood said the campaign wraps up in early June, but donations are always welcome.

“It’s not like we won’t take donations after that,” she said.