Youth Summer Camps Bring Growth, Joy

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There’s something about summer camp that evokes memories of carefree days. Alaska Housing’s Youth Summer Camp & Activity Scholarships have been making summer camp a reality for hundreds of Alaska families for more than a decade. In that time, the program has funded more than $350,000 in scholarships for 1,164 youth, serving 821 families throughout the state.

The annual program started in 2011 for youth ages six through 17. Participants must be part of a household living in public housing through Alaska Housing, or receiving rental assistance through any AHFC voucher program.

Developing Independence and Self-Confidence

Research shows that summer camps provide a safe environment for children to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills. They can also help improve decision making, enhance self-confidence and promote independence – all skills that are vital for becoming a self-sufficient adult, which is  a goal aligned with AHFC’s public housing services. 

AHFC developed its Youth Summer Camp & Activity Scholarship program to offer youth safe options for working families in their public housing system. The range of activities help keep youth engaged and reduce risk factors that may arise during critical summer hours when school is out and children might otherwise be left alone.

Supporting Families, Making A Difference

Scholarships have been allocated to residents of larger cities Anchorage and Fairbanks, as well as Homer, Juneau, Kodiak, Soldotna and Kenai. In previous years, scholarships have been provided to families in Bethel, Douglas, Nome, Petersburg and Wrangell.

AHFC’s Youth Summer Camp & Activity Scholarship program is immensely popular with families who may not have the financial means to send their children to summer camps. The program continues to expand to meet the needs of more families and extend the opportunity for youth to explore different types of activities and experiences. In 2021, AHFC served 68 families with 100 scholarships totaling $37,926.

Read about the experience of two young aviation campers this summer. 

Expanding Partnerships with Vendors

Alaska Housing works annually with about 40 vendors, which primarily consists of organizations that operate or provide support for summer camps and youth activities. There is a concerted effort to expand offerings each year and many opportunities are discovered through parents inquiring if a particular camp qualifies. In 2021, AHFC added 11 new vendors based on parent referrals and recommendations. 

“Each year we reach out to different vendors to develop new partnerships and extend opportunities for youth in more communities, especially in more rural locations where we specifically target and look for new camp experiences,” says Aimee Wallum, housing management specialist III, AHFC.

“One of the really unique aspects of AHFC’s Youth Camp & Activity Scholarship program is the wide variety of diverse experiences offered to participants – we really want kids to discover new interests or pursue things that they are passionate about, whether that be swimming, theater, science or soccer.” 

– Aimee Wallum, Housing Management Specialist III, AHFC

Building Future Leaders

In 2022, the average cost for a single summer camp in Alaska is $390. Recipients of AHFC’s Youth Summer Camp & Activity Scholarship can receive up to $500 per youth, limited to two youths per household. Recipient families pay a $25 copay per child to cover camp and activity administrative fees, and there are no limitations to the number of years a family can participate. 

The program receives up to 100 applications annually. Scholarships cover registration, transportation, jerseys, photos, and many other expenses associated with camp activities.

“This is a ‘feel good’ program for our public housing communities that really keeps kids engaged in the summertime and ultimately helps them learn to be productive, participating community members.” 

– Aimee Wallum

Get Ready for 2023

The application period for the Youth Camp & Activity Scholarship program typically begins in late April or early May. If you know someone who may be interested in participating next year, you can learn more here, including eligibility and how to apply.