When asked how much it costs to send a child to Camp Mak-A-Dream, near Gold Creek, Mont. Laura Bianco-Adams has a difficult time answering. She’s the Executive Director of Camp Mak-A-Dream, and her first answer is about $800 per child per session not including travel. However, she’s quick to point out that, the total doesn’t include any accounting of donated services, supplies and volunteer hours that keep the camp afloat year-round. Last year, Camp Mak-A-Dream served about 400 campers from 36 states – all free of charge, and next year they will celebrate their 20th camp season.
Compared to other KOA Care Camps which usually rent an existing camp for a week or two, Camp Mak-A-Dream owns and maintains its own facility and has an operating budget of about $1.3 million – all of which needs to be raised each year through various events, grants and donations from individuals and KOA Care Camps.
The financial help is absolutely necessary, but the volunteers are a godsend, Laura said. Each year, more than 200 volunteers help with the camp, doing everything from cleaning and maintenance to medical treatment. If they were all paid staff, the camp simply wouldn’t be able to keep its gates open.
“It goes so much further beyond $800 a camper. It’s just unbelievable all the volunteer support we have,” Laura said.