In order for your church to prepare for the worship offering at Annual Meeting, we felt an explanation would be helpful. One of this year’s offerings will go to the DuBois Center Scholarship fund, which is used for children of families who cannot afford to attend camp through their own budgets.
Shirley speaks about it…
If we truly believe that children and youth need open space to laugh, sing, play and pray together; that meaningful connections with positive Christian role models make a real difference; that learning to respect and care for ourselves and our “neighbors” is a critical skill; and that faith grows as we learn, explore and ask tough questions, then a week at camp can be life-changing and no one should be turned away for an inability to pay.
Finances are one of the challenges being faced by most, if not all, not-for-profit camps. Experts urge organizations to charge what it actually costs to operate a program or a facility including ongoing maintenance, and then provide scholarships for those with financial needs. Groups that have not done this have faced dire consequences. You can look across the country for examples or right here in southern Illinois. Fees that cover direct costs and scholarships for those in need are critical pieces of the equation.
The Sweet Shoppe at Fall Festival raises $1,200 – $1,500 annually for scholarships. In addition, DuBois Center receives about $2,000 each year in gifts designated specifically for scholarships. Beyond that, the Center’s budget underwrites an additional $15,000 – $18,000 of camper and retreat fees for families with significant financial struggles.
DuBois Center participates in a Title XX (financial assistance) program through the American Camp Association. This program provides some reimbursement (approximately 25-30%) of a typical camper fee, and – more importantly – a way to spread the camp experience to children beyond our churches. Information on this program is sent to foster parents, families eligible for free and reduced meals at school, and those with crippling medical bills. Some of the campers utilizing this program come from UCC churches and programs, many do not. This is one way DuBois Center provides outreach on behalf of our local congregations to the wider community.
This year’s Annual Meeting worship offering will be used to build the scholarship fund which will be used to underwrite the 70-75% of camper fees not covered by Title XX reimbursement, and in doing so, reduce our annual deficit, and provide for continued outreach.