Give the gift of summer camp

| 14 May 2014 | 12:53

    Summer camp is a right of passage for most children. It is a chance to have fun and make friendships that last a lifetime, without parental supervision.

    For some kids though, there aren't a lot of camp options unless they get help.

    Ingeborg A. Blondi Foundation
    Aiding children in the local area, the Ingeborg A. Biondo Memorial Foundation helps to send kids to summer camp. The program has been in place since 2002 but the idea for it came from the very top.

    "The idea emanated from John Biondi himself," Board Member Art Ridley said. "There were so many children that needed assistance that we became aware of through the foundation's other programs. There are children that would never have a chance to go to camp otherwise so we wanted to help them and it has since become one of the major programs."

    The program offers the gift of summer camp to kids with developmental, physical and neurological challenges who reside in Sussex County, N.J., Pike County, Pa. and western Orange County, N.Y.

    "We have four or five camps selected that we send kids to based on what they provide," Ridley said. "There is a diabetes camp and a few others. Parents submit the applications and then those are screened by professionals to make sure the applicants qualify by diagnosis."

    Since its inception in 2002, the program has grown to be one of the biggest for the Biondi Foundation.

    "We get about 200 applications each year," Ridley said. "Some of the children don't apply so we end up sending about 85 to 90 children to camp. Over the years we have aided a lot of kids with this. The important thing that we try to remember is that they would have never had this opportunity otherwise."

    Feeling good
    Helping these children is something that can be truly uplifting, especially considering the long term affects this can have on their lives.

    "It is important for folks to realize that there are young people in need all around," Ridley said. "There is a very extensive group but they aren't going to say anything so we need to offer to help them. This is an experience that they would not have had.

    "We have gotten letters back from parents of children that have been helped with this program extolling how much it meant to their children," Ridley continued. "It's an opportunity for children with special needs to be in an environment where all the kids are doing the same thing. At another camp they might be singled out for certain things but with this they are part of the regular entourage and that is good for them."