Getting Summer Camp Kids to the Parks
By Paula Russo
Yellow Buses in the Parks Grants Program Coordinator
It seems humans have an innate drive to see what’s just around the next corner. That’s because it’s good for us to get out and explore, meet new people, gain new perspectives…broaden our horizons.
This applies to children the same as adults. I think more so, because, as we all know, the effects of experiences we have as children often stay with us the rest of our lives. A lot of what we understand and learn to value (or not) happens in child and young adulthood. And, so, how can we expect the generation coming up now to know and appreciate Florida’s state parks if they’ve never been to any of them?
Getting kids out on educational field trips to Florida State Parks is one of the Foundation’s highest priorities. Through our grant program, Yellow Buses in the Parks (YB), we offer schools and after school/summer camp providers, like Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs, the funds needed to pay for field trip transportation costs to Florida State Parks.
Every trip we sponsor is required to have an educational component and the parks have some terrific programs designed just for that. Programs like Wildlife Wonders and Marsh Madness at Savannas Preserve State Park in St Lucie County and Touch a Tree, at Manatee Springs State Park in Levy County which teaches 1st graders the essential needs of trees and why we should want them around to keep us cool and give us oxygen to breathe. The Edible Aquifer activity at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala lets kids build a mini aquifer in a clear glass using ice and foods like crushed cookies and sprinkles to represent rocks and layers of soil, then they drip food coloring “pollutants” (fertilizers and motor oil) on top and watch it work it’s way down to their “drinking” water. These are just a few of the variety of programs offered for all ages at nearly every one of our 175 Florida State Parks.
So where does the money come from to pay these transportation costs? First, each year we dedicate a certain amount from an investment fund. But, that’s not nearly enough as this year we’ve received worthy requests totaling over $55,000 just for children’s summer camp field trips! We’re grateful to other nonprofit Foundations and individuals who are partnering with us to fulfill the summer camp field trip requests but we are still about $15,000 short of the need.
Can you help? I promise every dollar you donate down to the last cent will go directly towards the summer camp field trip transportation costs.
Click here to donate and mark it for Yellow Buses in the Parks or just say “YB”. And, thank you!