Government has spent more than $15.6 million on its National Summer Camp Programme in the last three years, an “extremely successful” venture that will continue despite Opposition criticisms.
Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made that clear today as he sought Parliament’s approval of $614,000 to pay caterers and other providers to the programme this year.
The Christ Church West Central MP said the national “developmental” exercise introduced when the current administration came to office in 2008 had been “extremely successful in transforming the whole context of provision of care services, educational services, developmental services to our young people, particularly during the six weeks of the summer holidays”.
“It is clear to me that while prior to 2008 there was some focus on summer camps that the philosophical underpinnings of this very important and precise intervention was missed by the Barbados Labour Party because they did not put behind it the kind of financial and human resources to ensure that we could have a transformation,” he said.
Lashley said that transformation had result in the number of camps and directors each growing from 33 in 2007 to 69 this year. This was in addition to the number of campers increasing from 3,486 to 12,500 during the same period, and camp assistants from an average of 300 to 850. There were also 67 small business caterers benefitting from the programme.
Lashley said $4.6 million would be spent on the camp initiative this year, compared to more than $5 million last year, and $6 million the year before.
“These investments have been very carefully structured to ensure that we could ensure by our programmes that money is being put back into the pockets of Barbadians,” he stated.
“By and large, given the reviews of the National Summer Camp Programme the responses and the reviews have shown that we have done extremely well in relation to the National Summer Camp Programme…
“The beneficiaries of that programme have been seeing the dividends and certainly I have no doubt that the investment, which we are defending in terms of the additional $614,000 to pay the caterers and other persons who are waiting for these monies, that these are monies well spent.”
Lashley also stated that “we have seen a new focus to what had become unstructured supervision within our families and neighbourhoods” since the programme’s introduction.
He said the current Administration was resolved from the start to “move our young people from any negative environment and in fact to boldly allocate millions of dollars of tax payers money to protecting our young people, but also to ensure that they spent their holidays in an environment that was conducive to relieving parents of the trauma of having our young people exposed to negative activities”. (SC)