Not every family can afford the expense of summer day camp. To help extend the opportunity to more children, the city of Henderson plans to partner with three area elementary schools to offer free programming and food throughout the summer.
“It’s not like a traditional summer camp,” said Kim Becker, spokeswoman for the city of Henderson. “We host the program in elementary schools within some of the lower-income neighborhoods rather than in our recreation centers.”
Participating elementary schools include Robert L. Taylor, 144 Westminster Way; Sewell, 700 E. Lake Mead Drive; and McCaw, 330 Tin St.
The Summer Fun program is expected to include sports, games, and arts and crafts. Some special events, such as field trips to swimming pools, also are slated to be offered at a nominal cost.
“A unique component of Summer Fun is the Summer Food Service Program, which ensures that low-income children are able to have nutritious meals during the summer when they don’t have access to the school lunch program,” Becker said.
Janet Dobry, principal at Robert L. Taylor Elementary School, said people assume Henderson would never have an issue with students having a lack of access to camps because of finances.
“People think there are no poor kids in Henderson,” she said. “But (Taylor) has one of the largest pockets in Henderson.”
Dobry said about 80 percent of her students are eligible for the free lunch program.
“That’s according to the federal poverty guidelines,” she said.
Jennifer Furman-Born, principal at McCaw Elementary School, said about 60 percent of her school population uses the free lunch program.
“We would probably have more, but some parents don’t realize they would qualify for it,” she said.
Without the food program during the summer, Furman-Born worries about how children might get proper nutrition.
“Our parents try to provide the best they can,” she said. “Without the program, I think kids would turn to 7-Eleven or live off fast food.”
The program has been around in some shape for the 13 years Dobry has been principal. Even though many students use the program, she knows it has the potential to reach more.
“You would think that every kid would be here every day because of it being free,” Dobry said.
She said students might sleep in for the morning part and miss breakfast.
“Lunch time is hit or miss,” Dobry said. “Not as many take advantage of it as much as they could. But we still have lots of kids here every day.”
Dobry added that, in the past, when the Clark County School District sponsored the program, the district funded it. But since it has been under the city of Henderson’s umbrella, the program is funded by other sources.
The program currently is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides breakfast and lunch at the sites.
To participate, a parent or guardian can complete a sign-up form with the city of Henderson. Registration also is available on site.
The camp program is open to children in kindergarten through ninth grade. Dobry said the free food component is open to anyone younger than 18.
For more information, visit cityofhenderson.com/parks.
Contact Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.