Mayor announces free camps for Memphis youth this summer

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - In a city council meeting Monday, Mayor Jim Strickland announced free summer camps for Memphis youth.

The mayor said this initiative will allow for more than 2,300 kids to attend summer camp at no charge.

"In operating our budget over the last eight months, we had a bit of a surplus," Strickland said.

Strickland said the city will use the $200,000 surplus to fund safe camp activities while school is out.

Carol Franklin is one grandmother who is happy to hear the news.

"That's wonderful, Franklin said. "It can be expensive and it has been expensive."

Franklin said the opportunity will help keep kids out of trouble.

"It's a grand thing to have your children involved in positive things," Franklin said.

Previously, to attend a summer camp at a city community center, the cost was around $162 and $80 for low-income families.

Strickland said although that fee will now be waived, eligibility requirements to attend camp remain the same.

Requirements include proof of residency for children ages 5-15.

Strickland said with Shelby County Schools providing free summer camps last year, city camp participation declined.

Research shows over the break, reading skills slide and students fall behind.

Strickland said to support continued learning, the city's camps will include literacy programs.

"We introduced that in our summer camps last year, we're going to do it again in our summer camps this year, and Shelby County Schools did it in their summer camps last year so collectively we're helping more than 10,000 children," Strickland said.

Strickland's office said 24 community centers will participate. Skinner Center will also have a summer camp specifically for people with disabilities and will have a separate registration.

Applications begin April 7 at each community center on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Non-residents will have to pay $400. 

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