Following the announcement last month that the National Summer Camp Programme will be put on hold, Government today called on non-governmental organizations, youth groups, churches and other interest groups to assist in the hosting of summer camps this year.
At the same time, Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde revealed that the National Science and Technology Camp at St Stephen’s Primary School and the agriculture camp at the Ministry of Agriculture, Graeme Hall Christ Church will take place this year.
Speaking at his ministry’s Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall headquarters, Forde also expressed support for interest groups who wanted to continue the summer programme or possibly expand their camps so as to minimize the impact of Government’s cancellation.
He stressed that his ministry would be open to providing technical support and direction to the interested parties. However, he made it clear that it would not be responsible for the day-to-day management of the camps.
“We are trying to get the community . . . more involved in the camp, more volunteerism,” he said, while also appealing to the business sector for help.
Forde also revealed that his ministry would provide a camp grant to families who are unable to cover their camp costs. However, he said this would be done on a needs assessment basis.
He also urged Barbadians to be understanding as Government seeks to rectify the country’s financial woes, saying “our spend is very, very critical at this point in time and we have to ask ourselves and especially as Barbadians, not what Barbados can do for us, but what we can do for Barbados”.
He however promised that the Government funded camps would return in 2019 after a full assessment was made of their financial costs and viability.
“We will definitely revamp and come next year with a camp that will obviously meet the needs of our young people, but would look at the amount of spend as it relates to a Government going forward,” Forde said, adding that “by next year you will have a new and improved camp that seeks to incorporate the technological aspect that we are living in.
“We will look at ecommerce. We will present a camp that is relevant for our young people and will maximize returns,” he stressed.
Forde also disclosed that a meeting will be held with NGOs who are running camps to discuss the framework, expansion and access to camp accommodation to ensure that no child is disadvantaged throughout the review process.
Interested camp coordinators have until July 17 to apply to use the schools, he said.