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ACA camper scholarship program.

From its beginnings in the late 1800s, camp has been an ideal setting for building understanding and friendship among people with diverse backgrounds. Most camp directors try to find creative ways for all youth to become part of their camp community, especially those whose families cannot afford to pay the full cost of a camp session.

But in these recessionary times, the effort becomes more difficult.

Fortunately, camps sponsored by not-for-profit organizations can use tax-deductible contributions to fund camper scholarships. Many generous individuals and organizations are willing to give money so that all children have an opportunity to go to camp. Although it is not widely known, independent camps can also initiate such scholarship funds, with the help of ACA.

The American Camping Association's camper scholarship program enables independent camps to give scholarships to campers who are not able to afford the entire camp fee. This effort benefits not only the child chosen for a scholarship, but also the entire camp community.

ACA's camper scholarship program has been assisting camps for seven years. In 1992, 22 ACA camps took advantage of this program. Through their efforts, $84,000 in scholarships helped send almost 100 children to camp.

Program Overview

Since the American Camping Association is a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service code, contributions to ACA are tax-deductible. Within certain restrictions, the association can accept contributions for camper scholarships. In this way, any ACA-accredited independent camp can offer a tax deduction for contributions to its camp's scholarship program.

Each camp selects its own scholarship recipients; however, scholarship monies must be used to provide services for campers whose families cannot otherwise afford the experience. The American Camping Association is particularly concerned that there is an opportunity for interaction between campers from varying social, economic, racial, national and cultural backgrounds.

Camps must develop and submit a set of objective criteria by which scholarship recipients will be evaluated and selected. ACA recommends that scholarship recipients remain anonymous to the camp community. Relatives of a camp's owners, operators or employees are not eligible for scholarships.

To ensure fairness, ACA requires that the person who makes the scholarship selections for a camp may not be a donor, or be influenced by a donor, or allow a donor to exercise a significant influence in the selection of scholarship recipients.

Camps may solicit contributions from parents, businesses, organizations or foundations. All donor checks must be made payable to the ACA Camper Scholarship Program with the camp's name in the lower left-hand corner. Contributions may be sent directly to ACA or may be collected by the camp and forwarded to ACA. Camp owners or operators may not make contributions to their camp's scholarship fund.

ACA will credit the funds received to each camp's account and complete a donor acknowledgement card for each gift. These cards are routed back through the camp so that a personal thank you can accompany the card.

To award a scholarship, camps must submit a Camper Scholarship Application. The ACA National Office issues a check within 14 working days. The total amount requested cannot exceed the amount in the camp's account.

A 7.5 percent administration fee is assessed on all scholarship contributions at the time they are credited to a camp's account. Any interest income is retained by ACA to defer expenses and to keep administrative fees as low as possible. An annual balance statement is sent to each camp.

Permanent Scholarship Endowments

It is also possible for camps to set up a permanent camper scholarship endowment fund through the American Camping Foundation. Gwynn Valley Camp of Brevard, North Carolina, established the first such endowment fund in 1985 through gifts from alumni, parents and friends. As the fund continues to grow, thanks to annual giving by those same friends, it will furnish camper scholarships from the interest income.

Here's how the permanent fund works: Instead of using the donations for the camper scholarship fund in the year given, the donations go into the American Camping Foundation's endowment fund, designated to a specific camp. The donations as well as the interest earned from investment of the endowment will accumulate for that camp until the amount exceeds $5,000. After the account has reached this balance, the camp can draw off earned interest to award camper scholarships using similar guidelines as for ACA's Camper Scholarship Program.

Should the camp ever be sold or otherwise transferred (except for estate-planning purposes where the donors or their family remain the primary parties of interest in the camp), or if the operation of the camp is discontinued for more than a year, the endowment fund would become part of the American Camping Foundation's general endowment fund. For this reason, the foundation does not charge the 7.5 percent administrative fee for this program.

For More Information

If you would like to start a camper scholarship program for your camp, contact ACA. We will send you a packet of information including a formal agreement that you must sign, plus samples of the application for camper scholarship funds, donor acknowledgement cards, and a brochure you can use to solicit scholarship monies. Write to ACA Camper Scholarship Program, 5000 State Rd. 67 North, Martinsville, IN 46151-7902; or call 317/342-8456.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Focus on Fund Raising; American Camping Association
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:874
Previous Article:Alumni cultivation: happy memories are a camp's best friend.
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