Miller began the camp in 2018 with 20 students; this year, 80 will participate in the week-long sleepaway event the last week of August at Camp Ramapo in Rhinebeck, NY, which specializes in working with children who have social, emotional and learning challenges. Miller’s team designed a progressive three-tiered curriculum, each tier building upon the previous, and leading to a counselor-in-training program and, eventually, an internship.
Camp Rise Up is offered to qualified campers at no cost to them, however, the expense of organizing and running the camp falls to The Floating Hospital and a program of fundraising from private donors. The current rise in inflation is concurrent with the camp’s increase in attendees and staffing. Five camp counselors for a week costs $3,000; the six counselors-in-training are each paid $300, and room and board for the week is $625 per camper. Added to that is the fact that most kids living in homeless shelters don’t have the necessities for camp—a basic hygiene kit, a backpack, a beach or bath towel, a bathing suit, sneakers. The cost of those incidentals cause parents to assume camp is out of reach.
“We’ve encountered this when we do outreach with parents. Some say they can’t send their child anymore, and when we gently ask why, it comes to light that some don’t have clothes, luggage or transportation,” says Reynaldo De Leon Jr., a health education specialist in Miller’s department. “But if we can address it, then they’re on board with attending.”