EVENDALE, Ohio -- This summer, kids can have a fun camp experience while also learning how to make a difference in the fight against childhood poverty.
Camp Give will offer students ages 6 to 14 a chance to become young philanthropists. The first-year camp program is hosted by Magnified Giving, a nonprofit educational organization that takes a donor's funds and encourages students to research and select a charity to receive the money.
The student philanthropy program is currently integrated into 86 schools in the Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Indianapolis areas.
Although Magnified Giving's focus had previously been on the high school age group, Camp Give allows the organization to bring their mission of inspiring philanthropy to a younger batch of students for the first time.
Looking back at the organizations chosen by high school students during the school-based program, Magnified Giving's leaders noticed that 40 percent of the donations during the last two years went toward fighting childhood poverty, said Kelly Collison, executive director of Magnified Giving.
Because child poverty was clearly an issue of importance to local students, it was a natural fit as a theme for Magnified Giving's new summer camp program.
This June and July, older campers -- ages 12 to 14 -- will visit local charities that assist children who are living in poverty for a hands-on approach to learning about the topic.
Younger campers will remain onsite at Magnified Giving's Evendale building to participate in some traditional camp activities, as well as to learn how they can be community helpers. They will have visits from local nonprofit organizations, including Childhood Food Solutions, UpSpring and OTR Community Housing.
"We will have the little kids pack bags of food and then the big kids will actually deliver them, which is all through organizations that already have that in place, so we are just helping them do their work," said Kelly Collison, Magnified Giving's executive director.
Campers will learn about homelessness, hunger and education in an age-appropriate manner, Collison said.
"For the younger kids, we will focus on random acts of kindness and the golden rule -- treat people the way you want to be treated," Collison said.
Funding for the youth philanthropy camps is provided by a grant from the Josephine Schell Russell Charitable Trust, PNC Bank Trustee.
A portion of the camp fee will be awarded as mini-grants by the campers to participating non-profit organizations each Friday. The campers will get to sit around a conference table and discuss and vote on which organization is their top choice. Each organization will be awarded some money each camp week.
The camp will be run by two young women who are alumnae of Magnified Giving's youth philanthropy high school program.
Xavier graduate student Caroline Ray and Julie Gyure, a student at the University of Cincinnati, were inspired by their own experiences with Magnified Giving -- Ray at Mount Notre Dame High School in Reading and Gyure at Perry High School in northern Ohio. They both served as interns for Magnified Giving and have worked previously as camp counselors elsewhere. Those experiences inspired them to develop the curriculum for the camp programs.
"For the past nine years, Magnified Giving has been just at high schools and some middle schools," Gyure said. "I think it's important to go beyond that and reach younger children and to reach their parents and families as well, to reach generations to come."
Through her prior experiences as a camp counselor at traditional camps, Ray said she really saw kids transform and evolve at camp. Adding philanthropy to the mix brings a unique element to all the regular fun camp activities.
"What's important about our program is we are empowering young people to step up and be part of the world," Ray said. "To be able to do that with little kids is a big step, so I was all in."
Research shows that people naturally want to be of service, and they just need to find an outlet for that desire to help, Collison said.
"We give these kids the chance to discover what is important to you, what do you care about and how can you use your gifts -- your time and your talent," Collison said. "No matter your age, everyone can do something to help someone."