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Trish Ireland

Loss of funding has Granite District struggling to keep summer camp alive

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Feb. 26, 2014 at 7:16 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Each year, nearly 2,000 elementary school students from the Granite School District engage in a summer camp program in the Uinta Mountains. But if district leaders can't come up with a funding solution soon, the nearly 50-year-old Mill Hollow program may go away.

Levi Romney, 11, attended the camp last summer just after moving to Utah.

"It was great for me," Levi said. "It might be great for other people too."

The camp not only helped him make new friends, his mother, Stacey Romney said, but also gave him an education he couldn't get in the classroom.

"After three days at Mill Hollow, (Levi) came back energized and excited to go to school," Romney said. "To be able to to combine outdoor activity with learning is a great opportunity."

The close to $500,000 it costs to run the program was funded through a recreation levy. The Utah State Legislature voted to cut that levy two years ago.

The funds were gone a year later, and Granite District spokesman Ben Horsley said the district used temporary funding to keep it going for one additional year.

"It's an effective program," Horsley said. "It gives students a chance — particularly lower, socioeconomic students who don't have a chance to go out in nature and to be able to go and have a summer camp experience."

The current fee for the Mill Hollow camp is $65, and nearly half of the students who go qualify for a fee waiver. Without subsidies from the levy, the fee would increase to $250 per student.

On Feb. 20, Granite District's director for Mill Hollow program sent a letter to school principals asking for suggestions to keep the camp running.

District administrators are also reaching out to potential business partners and county leaders for ideas on how to possibly share the site and cost with other districts.

Stacey Romney is part of a parent group that plans to meet with Granite School District Superintendent Marvin Bates to offer their own suggestions.

"You can't teach this with screens," Romney said. "It has to be outside."

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