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Shelby County dedicates over $260K to pay for kids to attend summer camp

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:56 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2022 at 6:00 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - School is out and parents are thinking about summer activities for their kids. And like a lot of things, the price of summer camps is going up.

Shelby County Government has dedicated more than $260,000 to pay for kids in 700 families to attend summer camps this season. It can make a big difference as the American Camp Association expects summer camp costs to rise 10 to 15% this year.

For five years Stephen Lee and his Memphis Jazz Workshop have taught children across Shelby County the basics of jazz music. This summer will be the third year of the intensive three week Jazz Workshop summer camp.

“What comes along with learning jazz improvisation is a lot of life skills like motivation and discipline,” Lee said.

While the music will go one, camp starts June 20, the prices to operate the Memphis Jazz Workshop summer camp and the thousands of others across the country are going up.

“It’s $600 for three weeks, but we don’t turn people away,” Lee said. “That’s why this grant [is so important], that’s why I want to thank Mayor Lee Harris.”

Lee thanking Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris for helping kick start a new youth summer camp scholarship program.

“All of us have had summer experiences that were life changing. We want to pass that along to the next generation,” Harris said.

More than two dozen camps have partnered with he county including Memphis Jazz Workshop. Girls Inc of Memphis is also part of the partnership.

“We expect to see about 1,300 girls this summer,” Girls Inc. of Memphis President and CEO Lisa Moore said.

Moore is seeing prices for camp meals to even fun activities like renting a bouncy house at least double from last year.

“Those costs have skyrocketed,” Moore said. “Even down to our fun water day where girls get in bouncy houses and the slippy slides where it cost $250 for a bouncy house last year, it costs $600 this year.”

Moore says almost all the increase in prices she’s see is related to the hike in gas prices.

But some organizations, like Girls Inc, will make it work.  Moore saying she’s making sure it’s still only $15 for each girl to attend summer camp.

“Summer camp isn’t just about playing in the mud,” Moore said. “This is about their mental health, they’re mental well being.”

“These operators just like all of us in our households have faced increased costs and they have in turn passed some of those increased costs to the price of their program,” Harris said. “The scholarships will hopefully solve that problem.”

Mayor Harris also hopes the program can serve as an intervention method in youth to prevent future crime.

You can learn more about this summer camp scholarship program at shelbycountytn.gov.

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