Camp counselors at Poly North are so committed to their work that when their budget was eliminated, they began forgoing their pay and raising private donations to keep the 36-year-old camp going. The counselors and their colleagues succeeded, as their first human relations camp of the year accommodated 150 sophomores last weekend in Big Bear.
Poly North’s funding had been eliminated due to budget cuts as a result of the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis. The camp, held at the YMCA’s Camp Oakes, offers Poly High School students team-building and cultural awareness activities.
“It’s part of Poly’s culture,” said Robert Shock, Poly dean of students and director of Poly North. “It helps us deal with many of the issues we face on such a large, diverse campus – issues of race and the differences students may have with one another. We knew we couldn’t just let it go.”
When the school learned of the loss of funding about a year ago, Poly staff members and students raised about $20,000 to keep the program going. The school partnered with restaurants to raise money, and two Poly alums donated $5,000 each. About 15 camp counselors agreed to work without their usual annual stipends of about $1,200 each.
Two more camps are planned for this school year (one fewer than last year). Budget reductions also forced the school to raise the fees charged to students attending the camp from $30 last year to $80 this year, but some of the recently raised funds go toward assisting students whose families cannot cover the entire fee.
Poly North continues to seek donations. Checks are payable to Poly High School and should be designated for Poly North. Mail checks to the high school at 1600 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA 90813.