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Funding Shortfalls Threaten Future of Camp Rainbow

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Since 1951, Camp Rainbow, Montgomery County’s summer camp for deserving children, has "met local children where they are" and enriched their lives with a variety of traditional camp activities while teaching invaluable life lessons on responsibility, honesty and good behavior.

The camp, which is located on 18 acres on the Perkiomen Creek in Lower Salford Township, operates for six weeks beginning at the end of June and continuing through early August. Previously, Camp Rainbow, which serves children ages 7 to 16, operated for eight weeks each summer.

Funding constraints and dwindling donations recently forced the camp to trim the season by two weeks and to house a maximum of 490 children total during its sessions, Camp Director Alex Fizz said.

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“I’d love to see it go back to eight weeks,” said Fizz, who has served as camp director since 2011. “I certainly don’t think it’s a recruitment issue … The supply of students in financial need is not lacking in Montgomery County.”

It costs $250 for each camper’s week-long stay, which features arts and crafts activities, pool and water safety instruction, music education, sports and more.

In addition to expanding the camp season and bolstering enrollment, incorporating more environmental education to tie in with relevant biologic connections with the Perkiomen Creek is another goal for Fizz.

To that end, integrating canoes and kayaks to the camp’s stable of five flat bottom boats would serve to complement the program.

In terms of the camp itself, Fizz said the 21-year-old pool, while still well within its safety parameters, is in need of improvements. Inside the cabins, cabinets are worn and in need of replacement, or at least refacing, he said.

Minor plumbing issues, including a toilet in disrepair, are in need of fixing in the short-term, Fizz said.

“There’s always pie in the sky things,” Fizz said. “I also try to stay very practical on what’s really doable and what’s doable without changing the culture of what we created.”

Fizz, who works as a full-time education consultant in Montgomery County schools, is reminded of the Camp Rainbow lasting impact when he hears former campers reflect on values instilled during camping sessions.

In the long-term, Fizz said he would like to see at least half of Camp Rainbow’s staff of 20 to 21 be comprised of former Camp Rainbow campers.

“I really do see that as a purposeful goal for our camp in the next five years,” he said, adding that in 10 years, Fizz would like to see Camp Rainbow completely run by former campers.

Integral in shaping youth for a positive future is hiring relatable counselors and camp personnel.

“I work very hard to make sure when I’m hiring people, I’m hiring people who, if at all possible, grew up where these kids grew up. That ability to relate and mirror is something that I work very hard to create,” Fizz said. “It’s essential for kids to have good role models … someone who grew up where they grew up.”

For more information on Camp Rainbow, click here to visit the Web site. 

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