Museum $ummer Camp $cholarships

Summer is soon approaching and while museum educators plan for summer camp programs, families are looking for great, affordable opportunities for those long, hot summer days.

A recent inquiry on a museum  list-serv asked about the process and protocol for awarding camp scholarships. Along with a number of other individuals who responded to the post, I shared my thoughts and experiences as a museum summer camp supervisor. As the program coordinator who initially posted the inquiry was kind enough to email the list-serv a compilation of her findings, I’ve provided a summary below:

  1. Get the Kids Involved! As with my experience, it is most helpful to get the children involved in the application process. Having the child write an essay or include a drawing explaining why he or she would like to come to camp are great examples of ways to include children in the process.
  2. Parents & Paperwork: Parents/ guardians should also submit a letter of interest and a form to show proof of need. Such paperwork might be tax forms (with certain information blacked-out) or other forms showing the need for financial assistance (medicaid, reduced lunch for children and so on).
  3. Recommendations: Depending on the process, community members may be asked to nominate children for scholarships. Most commonly, the child’s teacher, coach or mentor may be asked to write a letter of recommendation.
  4. Museum Forms: The museum should also have some sort of application form for adults to complete so that all the necessary information is included for record keeping and filing. This can double as the camper’s registration form should the scholarship be awarded.
  5. Scholarship Committee: In my experience, I asked colleagues from different departments (including our Finance and Human Resource departments) to be part of a committee to review all applications and select scholarship winners. This provided a fair and unbiased means for selecting appropriate candidates.
  6. Support Options: Depending on resources, it may be beneficial for the museum to offer full and partial scholarships in order to benefit more applicants. Especially with the current economic times we live in, any support would likely be appreciated.

For parents/guardians who are reading this, museums that offer summer camp programs are likely to provide some funding assistance (do not quote me on that). Although availability might fluctuate depending on the types funding sources (whether through donations or grants, etc.)  contacting the museum that your child absolutely loves to inquire about such assistance for summer programs is a great way to get the ball rolling.


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