MUSCATINE, Iowa–For many children, going to camp represents the highlight of their summers. Going to camp gives kids opportunities to travel, meet other people, and develop new skills that they might not have had otherwise. However camp, with all the supplies needed for a successful stay, and transportation all come with a cost, and not all families can afford it. To help give fourth grade girls the chance to go to camp, Muscatine’s T. T. T. chapters sends several campers to Camp Wyoming each year. After pausing their efforts for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they resumed the practice this year.
To ensure that girls who cannot go to camp on their own have an excellent experience, T. T. T. chapters select several girls to sponsor and they help them get all the items they will require for a successful trip, from new clothing, to sunscreen and bug spray, to suitcases, and anything in between: “Before camp, we take them shopping. We buy them all the clothes and supplies they need–their families don’t pay a dime,” asserted T. T. T. GO Chapter member Cindy Sparks. Members of T. T. T. also do other fun activities with the girls going to camp, such as taking them swimming and eating at a restaurant, to help them get comfortable spending time away from their parents.
When the time to go to camp rolls around, T. T. T. ensures campers get transportation to and from camp. In years past, they have provided a bus service that transports all campers at the same time. However, due to continuing COVID-19 concerns, especially among children not yet eligible for vaccines, they opted to have members privately drive the campers they sponsored instead.
Even after girls return from camp, T. T. T. members continue to stay in touch with them, sending them birthday and holiday cards and holding reunions for campers to reconnect with each other. Once former campers reach their senior year of high school, they can apply for T. T. T. scholarships, helping them cover the cost of higher education. “You never know what that little boost may or may not do for them,” observed T. T. T. M Chapter member Brenda White.
In order to cover the cost of sending girls to camp each year, each T. T. T. chapter holds a unique fundraiser. Sparks shared that her chapter hosts an auction of gently used purses to generate funds, while White’s chapter has a well-known annual pecan fundraiser to cover their costs. In a typical year, chapters bring in enough funds to send several girls to camp.
Through organizing fundraisers, working with area teachers to select girls who could benefit from camp, preparing campers for their big trip, and staying in touch with them when they return takes a lot of effort, T. T. T. members find every part of the process worth it: “It feel’s great–it feel’s like you’re making a difference,” said Sparks. “They absolutely love camp. Every girl comes back full of stories.”
T. T. T. chapters always welcome new members and hope more in the community will share their interest in sending girls to camp. If you would like to join them, Sparks encourages you to contact her at [email protected] and White welcomes your email at [email protected]