Student Newsroom

Financial aid and scholarships make summer camp more accessible for C-U families


The Champaign Park District district's scholarships play a big role in making sure everyone has access to recreational activities, says Chelsea Norton, the district's director of marketing and development. Christine Herman/IPM News

CHAMPAIGN — Now’s the time many families start signing kids up for summer camp. For working parents, this child care is essential; but it can be expensive.

Parents in Illinois who qualify for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program based on their work or school status can use that to help cover the cost of summer camp as well, but not all programs accept payments from CCAP.

The Stephens Family YMCA accepts CCAP because the organization wants to make summer camps accessible to more families, says Kayla Carter, director of financial operations.

“If you’re a single parent, or financially unable to pay for care, it’s very important that you have the opportunity available and that we accept [CCAP] so that they can afford to attend the camps,” Carter said.

In addition to accepting CCAP, the Stephens Family YMCA, as well as the Champaign and Urbana park districts offer scholarships as another financial aid option.

Chelsea Norton, the Director of Marketing and Development at the Champaign Park District, said the district's scholarships play a big role in making sure everyone has access to recreational activities. 

“We’ve given out hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships over the last few years,” Norton said. “For camps last year, I think we gave out $50,000 to $75,000 in scholarships.” 

Devin Brocksmith, the Youth Program Director at the Stephens Family YMCA, believes that providing financial aid is crucial for the organization.

“I think it is absolutely needed in the community, and I think it is a great thing for tons of single parents or families who may not have the financial means and want a safe place for their children,” Brocksmith said. 

Heather Britsky, the Recreation Office Manager for the Urbana Park District, said one of her favorite parts of her job is helping families with financial aid.

“We have families that would not be able to come to camp, that would not be able to do basic activities such as soccer or swim lessons without these scholarships,” Britsky said.

One resource that aims to help east-central Illinois families access child care – including summer programs – is the Child Care Resource Services, or CCRS, run by the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

CCRS helps administer the state’s Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP, which helps low-income families pay for child care. 

The CCAP application form, as well as more information on services offered can be found at the CCRS website.