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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2008 > Experiences, Opportunities, but Mostly for Fun, Local Little Leagues Finding Ways to Send Kids to Summer Camp

Experiences, Opportunities, but Mostly for Fun, Local Little Leagues Finding Ways to Send Kids to Summer Camp

Experiences, Opportunities, but Mostly for Fun, Local Little Leagues Finding Ways to Send Kids to Summer Camp

Asbury Park Summer Camp Asbury Park (N.J.) Little League is one of a growing number of local leagues that is directing a portion of its annual fundraising revenue toward sending players to Little League Summer Camp. Whether participating in a week-long camp at Green Acres in Hillsgrove, Pa., or traveling to Williamsport, Pa., the home of Little League International and the Little League Baseball World Series, the experience and memories made are well worth it.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (May 5, 2008) – Little League Baseball Summer Camp has been a staple of the Little League program for more than four decades. The opportunity and experiences of going to camp have been embraced by a growing number of local leagues, which through pooled resources, solicited sponsorships and creative fund raising, are stepping up to send players to camp at Little League International in Williamsport or Green Acres in Hillsgrove, Pa.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Michael Alban, Chairman of the Newark (N.J.) Inner City Little League (NICLL) Committee, said. “Local camps are nice, but the experience of getting away to Williamsport or Hillsgrove is worth every cent. We’ve sent kids for three years now … The kids love it and want to go back.”

For five weeks each summer, hundreds of children (ages 10-14) travel to Williamsport to live like the World Series players, improve their skills and above all, make memories.

Campers play on the World Series fields, stay in the World Series housing complex and eat at the World Series dining hall, while receiving instruction from a team of experienced instructors and counselors.

“In Newark, myself and our seven leagues (NICLL) are trying to build baseball in the inner city,” Mr. Alban, the first Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award winner (2005), said. “I see our affiliation with Little League making a big difference. Little League Baseball Summer Camp gives a chance for kids to get out of the city … you can’t beat it!”

The NICLL has sent nearly 70 kids to Little League Summer Camp. Mr. Alban said each league selects the players to attend camp.

For three seasons, NICLL has selected a specific week-long session for all the players to attend (approximately 20 players). Mr. Alban approaches local business and other corporate entities to support the summer camp program. Annually, $8,500 is raised to sponsor the players’ registration and transportation costs.

“We have no repeats,” Mr. Alban said. “If a player wants to go back, that’s great, and we hope the parents can send him. We want to give each kid a chance to get to camp. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Mr. Alban suggested by coupling the resources available in your community and some imagination, there are a variety of potential fundraising options. For leagues who may be interested in supporting a camp program, specific fundraisers, scholarships, and raffles have worked for their leagues.

In Asbury Park, N.J., Asbury Park Little League (APLL) also has initiated a Little League Baseball Summer Camp program for players in its league. League president Danny McKee has received financial support from eight sponsors, who have afforded 21 of his league’s 135 players the ability to attend camp (nine to Williamsport, 12 to Hillsgrove).

“There are many money sources out there,” Mr. McKee said. “Most companies have some sort of contribution fund to give money to organizations. It’s a matter of getting to the right people in and out of the community.”

According to Mr. McKee, the criteria for an Asbury Park Little League player to be considered for a summer camp scholarship is - attendance at practices and games, ability, an above all, a good attitude.

The APLL summer camp package includes a new glove, bat and equipment bag. In total, the league accommodates $450 per player, including the registration fee, new playing equipment, and transportation.

“Little League Baseball Summer Camp is a great program,” Mr. McKee, who will drive the van and deliver the players to camp, said. “The families of most of kids in our league lack the means to send them to camp themselves. It’s great to get out of the city and enjoy the mountains of central Pennsylvania, which is a whole different world.”

Asbury Park Little League, which participated in the 2007 Urban Initiative Jamboree in Williamsport, has been so successful in reaching out for camp sponsorships that it will have other players traveling to Florida this year to participate in a camp at the Detroit Tigers’ Spring Training facility hosted by former Major Leaguers Denny and Blake Doyle.

“It’s special to give as many children as possible the chance to play on the fields in Williamsport,” Mr. McKee, whose volunteered in Little League for six years, the last four as league president, said. “The kids who came to last year’s Jamboree will go to Hillsgrove. The total number going to camp in Hillsgrove and Williamsport will depend on the money that comes in.

“I’d love to get a long-term commitment from sponsors,” Mr. McKee said. “Going to summer camp is another way how Little League can affect the growth of our players in terms of baseball, but more importantly, this type of experience is great for their personal growth.”

The NICLL and Asbury Park Little League are both located in metropolitan areas in New Jersey, but both Mr. Alban and Mr. McKee agree that the opportunity to support sending children to Little League Baseball Summer Camp is a sound investment in their future and a wonderful incentive that any league can afford to provide.

When considering the Little League Summer Baseball Camp as a league-wide benefit, the advice each gives focuses on presentation and accountability. Mr. Alban and Mr. McKee have each approached businesses, both large and small. They’ve discovered that it is essential to create a variety of donation methods. Flexibility and anonymity are important to perspective donors, as is a trusted understanding of how the donations will be used.

“If you have a good program, present it properly and are responsible with the donations, you will be able to find money,” Mr. McKee said. “People and companies are usually fine with giving money, but you have to keep your eyes open for different revenue sources.”

Two points Mr. McKee and Mr. Alban see as critical to making this type of program successful is to be serious with the money and have a “Thank You” plan in place to recognize donors.

More information on Little League Baseball Summer Camp can be found here: http://www.littleleague.org/camp/index.asp