Although the 2014 National Summer Camp Programme has been impacted by budget cuts, there will be no compromise in providing ???a quality camp experience???.

This assurance has come from Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, during the launch of the 2014 National Summer Camp Programme, held at his ministry???s headquarters in Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael this morning.

Explaining that ???a number of cuts across the government sector??? have forced the implementation of several adjustments to the programme, Mr. Lashley said this year???s budget was approximately $700,000 versus that of $3.5 million in 2013.

Consequently, the number of summer camps being offered this year has been reduced to 46 compared with 64 camps in 2013. In addition, the camps will run for a duration of five weeks instead of the usual six, and will commence on Monday, July 14 and end on Friday, August 15. There will also be no provision of free meals to campers.

???The provision of meals, which would have been provided through the caterers employed under the National Summer Camp Programme, represents that largest element of expenditure??? and unfortunately this year we are not in a position to provide those meals. That is a major change???,??? Minister Lashley said.

He further outlined that if there was a demand for prepared meals, arrangements would be made for campers to purchase their lunch directly from approved persons or an approved caterer. He explained that applicants would be required to indicate on the registration form whether their children would bring lunch or would need to purchase meals.

??????Based on the results of the registration process, we would then allocate an approved caterer??? and, of course, we intend to manage the process where the meals, once there are required, will be produced at a reasonable rate,??? he said.

According to the Minister, the staff of the Division of Youth in the Ministry would also be ???more directly involved??? in the management of the camps this year. A committee, headed by the Director of Youth Affairs, Cleviston Hunte, has been established and is responsible for the management of the camps.

???All persons who are working in the Division of Youth will be deployed in very central ways in terms of ensuring the management and integrity of our camps,??? he stressed.

He said that the hiring of camp directors and camp assistants had not been impacted by the budget constraints and stressed that persons recruited to work within the camps would be trained and required to adhere to the camp manual.

???There will be no compromise to the quality of our camps this year; we intend to provide a camp experience that is at a very high level. We have focused a lot of attention in previous years to exposing our young people to educational tours, this year that will still be a major component,??? he added.

Minister Lashley said the majority of camps would accommodate children ages four to 12. He pointed out that the camps would offer a variety of activities such as sports, culture, science and technology, personal development and social education in areas such as HIV awareness and drug abuse.

Specialised camps would be offered again this year for children, ages 13 to 15. These include a Science and Technology camp at St. Stephen???s Primary, Camp Enterprise at Queen???s College, which focuses on entrepreneurship and several sports and cultural development camps.

Registration forms are available from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael. Persons who may need more information should contact the Ministry at 621-2700.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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