Every Memorial Day weekend for the past 15 years, fifth graders at Issaquah Valley Elementary (IVE) have gone to camp. At camp, the students learn about ecosystems, forests and nature while participating in team building and confidence building experiences.
For Kim Pike, an IVE parent and former parent-teacher association (PTA) member, the fifth-grade camp is something akin to a “rite of passage” for these students before they enter middle school.
“These kids grow up watching their older siblings go to camp,” Pike said. “They’re so excited when they finally enter fifth grade knowing they’ll finally go on that camping trip.”
The camping trip has always been funded by the school’s PTA. However, this year’s fifth-grade students will not be able to camp as the PTA has decided to pull its funding.
Students and families were notified of the PTA’s decision on Nov. 16. According to Pike, many students went home in tears after learning camp to Miracle Ranch had been canceled.
“I had several parents tell me their child walked out of school in tears. These kids have been looking forward to this camp for so long and to see it not happen is really disappointing,” she said. “My fifth-grade daughter has been waiting anxiously to go to camp after my now seventh-grade son went two years ago.”
Pike said the PTA pulled its funding for this year’s camp because they didn’t want to take the risk. Taking the students to camp was too much of a liability, the PTA decided.
The PTA board members could not be reached for comment by press deadline.
Pike and a group of other IVE parents have organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to send every fifth-grade student to the weekend camp.
“Our goal is for every fifth grader to be able to go to camp, without having cost get in the way,” Pike wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Our school has a 21-percent free and reduced lunch population, so considering that many families have trouble paying for lunch, they won’t be able to pay for camp either.”
The cost for each student to go to camp is about $127. Transportation for three buses is about $4,500.
“We would like to raise enough money to cover at least 30 scholarships and transportation costs,” Pike wrote. “Money raised will also help buy a camp shirt for every student and snacks. Any additional funds raised after those expenses are covered,will be donated back to the camp.”
The GoFundMe fundraiser is set at $8,500.
“This camp experience, while it doesn’t sound especially important, means a lot to these kids,” Pike said. “It’s something that a lot of them would never be able to experience otherwise and we really want to fulfill our promise to these students.”
For more information about the fundraiser to send the IVE fifth-grade students to camp, go online to https://tinyurl.com/yd458vq4.