L.L. Bean Funds Second Summer of Camp Experiences

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Campers sit at a picnic table to do arts and crafts at the YMCA Camp of Maine
Camperships provided by LL Bean allowed dozens of Maine children to attend camp in the summer of 2023.

We are grateful to L.L. Bean for its second summer of playing a pivotal role in making summer camp experiences possible for more than 160 of Maine’s most underserved children. This gift leveraged an additional $230,000 of campership funding, tripling its impact.

 L.L. Bean’s thrilling announcement last spring that MSC would again receive $100,000 in funds earmarked for Maine children to attend camps in Maine kicked off efforts to benefit as many children as possible. L.L. Bean also donated $25,000 for the second year to support the administration of MSC’s Level Ground Initiative, serving children from Maine’s immigrant and refugee communities.

Lucy Norvell, MSC executive director, said in response to the news: “A child who receives the gift of a summer camp experience receives the gift of childhood. Summer camp is childhood at its finest.”

Camps provide a community where children belong and where their developmental needs – emotional, social, physical, and cognitive – are met by carefully selected adults able to teach a range of skills in an environment designed exclusively for children. The place-based and largely unplugged educational setting of camp offers significant opportunities for peer interaction, character education and social emotional learning unavailable elsewhere in today’s world. Throughout its more than 100-year history, camp has been a place where children have always thrived. These experiences have never been more vital as families and schools continue to recover since the pandemic, individually and collectively.

“A repeat gift of this size validates the impact and importance of camps’ collective contributions to the growth and development of children of all ages,” Norvell said.

MSC was fortunate that Maine Camp Experience, a group of private Maine camp owners, again donated funds to support this project.

As in summer 2022, 75 percent of the campers receiving camperships attended nonprofit camps. Twenty-five percent of the funds went to independent camps that received the maximum funding of $1,500 for more than two weeks of camp and $1,000 for two weeks or less. In all, 34 camps received at least one campership. Participating camps leveraged the funding they received by offering an additional $230,000 in campership funds from camp donors and their own campership coffers. MSC balanced serving as many new campers as possible while also supporting campers who wished to return to camp after attending during summer 2022.

Camp professionals understand the gains for children who attend camp for more than one summer. Camp Beech Cliff, a day camp on Mt. Desert Island, once again hosted campers for benefited from the L.L. Bean grant. “The advantages of hosting returning L.L. Bean-funded campers are significant,” said Camp Beech Cliff’s Office Manager John Izenour. Returning to camp allows children to continue friendships gained from attending camp among children from a variety of backgrounds, he said.

All camps that applied for funds on behalf of returning campers in summer 2023 received grant support.

At a time when too many of Maine’s children are living in poverty (percentages of those struggling are higher than in other states), the L.L. Bean grant offering the gift of camp is even more important. Camps in Maine provide an abundance of food, fitness, and life lessons – all overseen by adult hired to focus exclusively on their campers’ needs and interests. Several children who received camperships from this program are growing up in foster care, are members of unhoused families, or come from low-income families burdened with financial and other demands.

Thank you notes from participating camps poured into the MSC office expressing deep gratitude on behalf of the campers whose camp experiences were funded, as well as appreciation for the support in reaching camps’ goals to serve more children in need. Camp Timanous Director Garth Altenburg wrote, “the award from L.L. Bean to support a camper from Maine to attend Timanous aligns perfectly with our mission to serve more deserving campers from a wider variety of backgrounds.”

MSC will need to increase future campership funding to meet the need. Lucy Norvell says that some camps individually have campership budgets in the low six figures; this fund will need to increase exponentially to meet the overall need statewide. “MSC will invite additional corporate, foundation, and individual funders and donors to join MSC’s significant efforts to make summer camp experiences possible for Maine’s children who face barriers to attending camp,” Norvell said.

“With generous support for a second year from L.L. Bean and Maine Camp Experience, we are off to an excellent start.”

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