The Hero Fund
At Wayfinder we believe in the work that we do. Giving children and teenagers a safe, playful place to explore their identity is important, and we’ve dedicated a lot of years to making sure we’re able to provide that. Every teenager needs a space outside of school and their family to explore who they are and who they’re becoming. Not every teenager comes from a family or situation that can afford to send them to summer camp to provide that kind of experience. That’s where the Hero Fund comes in. Often Hero Fund applicants come from economically disadvantaged families, families where one or more parents are undergoing serious medical treatment, or have recently lost a job. Wayfinder is the place where these young people feel most comfortable and open, particularly in moments of familial unrest like these. Wayfinder has always striven to help people in need of financial assistance since it’s inception; for the past three years we’ve been asking our community to help us with that goal.
In 2014, Wayfinder started the Hero Fund, our scholarship program. The Hero Fund is funded through donations and money made from our Frontier Adventures that we run throughout the off-season. In the end (being a company based around community), Wayfinder often operates at a loss to help get everyone we can to camp. Donations generally come from community members who feel that camp is an important space to them, and extended community members, such as parents, who have seen the benefits of our programs. One of the largest donating demographics are our staff pool, with 16 different staff members having personally donated to the fund, making the work we do at Wayfinder a priority for them. Staff have donated paychecks at the end of events, donated after they were no longer able to be involved in camp, or just donated when they could afford to (the best present that I got when I graduated from college was a Hero Fund donation).
While the money coming in from people who are already involved is important, Wayfinder is currently at a need for donations. Over the past three years we are proud to say that the Hero Fund has been able to give over $15,000 in assistance to participants in need. We are so thankful to the community for having provided this much for our members who need that extra help. For this coming summer, we have requests for almost $8,000 in Hero Fund funds. Money is allocated based upon the amount that our participants are able to pay to be at camp and the amount of money we’ve had donated and raised throughout the year. We do everything we can with the donation money to provide a space for as many people as possible. We also take the privacy of our applicants very seriously, and never share even the fact that someone has asked for assistance with the community at large.
We’re calling on our community to help us raise this money with the summer fast approaching. The Hero Fund supplies campers with access to a space that meets a certain kind of need in their lives, one that can be particularly hard to meet. Wayfinder as a community and an organization offers people acceptance. At the age at which people start coming to camp this may be something they have never experienced before. Countless participants have talked to me about the ways in which Wayfinder has saved their lives (and a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how it had done that for me on this very blog). So often kids come to camp shy or nervous, only to leave by the end of the week glowing. I could never possibly list the number of parents who have told me that Wayfinder was the time their child was happiest. This summer we’d like to offer that to as many participants as possible; some of them need a little help to get there. Please help us be the difference in those children’s lives.
Written by Judson Easton Packard