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Area youth attend summer camps through WellSpan grant

September 20, 2022

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More than 50 York-area children received scholarships to attend camp this summer through WellSpan’s Inspire Grant. Pictured above are youth in camp at the Curious Little Playhouse. Each week, campers  spent time with therapy dogs from the York City Police Department.

More than 50 York-area children received scholarships to attend camp this summer through WellSpan’s Inspire Grant. Pictured above are youth in camp at the Curious Little Playhouse. Each week, campers spent time with therapy dogs from the York City Police Department.

As the summer days wind down, children have returned to school, many with memories of their summer camp experiences. 

This includes more than 50 York-area children who received scholarships to attend camp through WellSpan’s Inspire Grant.

The Inspire Grant was part of a collaboration involving WellSpan; the Curious Little Playhouse, an indoor play center for children; and the Movement, a non-profit organization geared to helping York community members live better lives.

WellSpan partners with community organizations to expand its mission, building healthier communities and promoting lifelong health and wellness for all, explained Michelle Mummert, senior director, WellSpan Community Health. Inspire Grants provide support for projects that advance WellSpan’s Community Health Improvement Plan priorities.

Fun and educational experiences

The Curious Little Playhouse has 2,000 square feet of open space and is a place for kids to unplug and use their imagination while they play. Day camp centered on a different theme each day as campers utilized the entire area. Themes included animals, watermelon, mermaids, and pirates. The activities, music, and games centered on each theme, including meals, which campers helped prepare each day.

“During our Christmas theme, we hunted candy canes downtown and the kids loved it,” said Jen Swanner, operator at the Curious Little Playhouse.

The summer day camp is a great example of how WellSpan supports the great work of its partners who share the mission to improve the community in which we all live, work, and play, Mummert explained.

“The program offers children the opportunity to connect with peers to engage in positive activities and build life skills,” she said. “It provides an affordable option for working parents who need a safe and educational environment for their school-age children to enjoy over the summer.”

One highlight of summer camp was when the York City police officers brought therapy dogs to visit the campers. Officers shared stories about the dogs, their training, and how they are used to comfort and provide therapy, Swanner explained.

“It was very sweet,” she said. “There wasn’t one kid who didn’t love the dogs.”

Life-changing opportunities

Last summer, the Curious Little Playhouse and the Movement partnered to provide eight children with scholarships to attend day camp. This year, they wanted to increase their scholarships to create more opportunities for local youth. 

“This year was a life-changing experience for some of these kiddos,” Jen added. “And it was also a life- changing experience for me.”

Through the Inspire Grant, scholarships were awarded to 35 children to attend camp at the Curious Little Playhouse. Another 17 older youth were able to attend a separate day and overnight camp.

“There are so many kids in the community, especially downtown, that need more resources,” she said.

To be eligible for a scholarship, children needed to be residents of either York County or York City. Swanner learned about a child’s need from an application or from a parent/other family member, and then worked with the Movement to facilitate the awards.