In April 1957, a handful of individuals got together to try to raise $5,000 to help the Volunteer Service Bureau, a coordinating agency under the New Rochelle Council of Social Agencies, to send 140 New Rochelle children to camp needy.
That summer, through their efforts, 103 children, chosen through the Department of Family and Child Welfare and the Salvation Army, made it to camp. But 60 others also selected by the two agencies could not go to camp for lack of funds. That year, the Westchester Children’s Association paid for 16 children, but said it could not continue this allocation indefinitely.
Something had to be done. Other social agencies, such as the Visiting Nurse Association, the Boys’ Club, the Guidance Center, and Family Service of Westchester assembled facts about additional children who needed the opportunity to go to camp. The Volunteer Bureau also learned about other children, blind or otherwise physically or developmentally disabled, who deserved the joys of an experience at summer camp
The New Rochelle Campership Fund was born.
The Volunteer Bureau set up a screening committee to review applications for camperships and to allocate funds where the need was greatest. Mrs. Frederic Davidson was named chairman and Mrs. William Schuman, Mrs. Nathaniel Whitehorn, and Mrs. Robert Frese were the general committee.
Elmer H. Miller, editor of The Standard Star, agreed to have the newspaper publish appeals for the Campership Fund, accept the contributions and acknowledge them through publication. The newspaper also assumed any administrative costs.
In its first season, 1958, the newspaper appeals raised $4,023. With the help of another $532 donated directly to the Salvation Army and camp scholarships donated by Blessed Sacrament Day Camp, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Masonic Lodge, 158 New Rochelle children went off to camp that year.
Since that time the tradition has continued annually, although in a few lean years, the fund could not meet its annual goal and desperate appeals had to be made for additional funds. In the early years, two weeks at a sleep-away camp cost $50; now it ranges closer to $400.
For many years, the newspaper and letter appeals generated enough money for the Fund to meet its goal. But times changed and it became harder and harder to raise the ever-increasing amount needed to send children to camp. Some fundraisers were held, which helped somewhat.
Then in 1983, the New Rochelle Lions Club, which for many years had been a major supporter of the project, joined The Standard-Star as co-sponsors of the Campership Fund. The New Rochelle Lions had for many years operated Brewster Camp for Tubercular Children and later for just needy children from New Rochelle. When the Lions finally closed the camp, the interest from the sale in 1970 was used thereafter to help the New Rochelle Campership Fund.
The Lions continue to make the fund one of their major fund raising beneficiaries. In 1990, the community newspaper Tomorrow, also became a sponsor, reporting on the Campership fund and publishing the names of contributors.
Now in its 61st year, the fund is operated solely by an executive committee composed of volunteers. There are no administrative costs.
All members of the executive board give freely of their time and effort and the costs of mailings and other matters are absorbed by them and sponsors.
All contributions to the New Rochelle Campership Fund are used only to send children to camp. Donations are tax deductible.