Grantee Highlight – Camp Joy

February 13, 2017  |  Grantee Highlight

This Grantee Highlight features Camp Joy, an organization that the NRF has been fortunate enough to work with on several granting projects. This post contains a paraphrased transcript of an interview that I had with Gunner Blackmore, the Development Manager at Camp Joy, and considers the importance of finding additional revenue streams and fostering relationships with partnering organizations and programs.

Provide a quick overview of what Camp Joy does.

Camp Joy is celebrating its’ 80th anniversary this year, founded in 1937 as a result of the Cincinnati flood. The Organization’s mission is to help kids in Cincinnati and the surrounding region that live in economically challenging situations. Camp Joy partners with other organizations such as, Boys and Girls clubs, child service agencies, and foster services in order to provide these children with a summer camp experience. Over the years the camp has expanded and now works with individuals, including the Cincinnati Children’s hospital, Amputee Coalition of American (national program), and American Diabetes Association. Camp Joy employs 40 year round staff and 60 additional summer camp counselors.

Camp Joy offers several programs; First, the Camp provides children aged 7-16 with a camp experience for a week in the summer and when possible reinforcement during the year through weekend experiences. The impact that Camp Joy has on these children is evident through the large number of campers that return as counselors after aging out of the program.

Camp Joy also partners with schools to provide 2-3 day environmental and experiential education programs on the camp’s grounds. These schools come from all types of economic standing. More affluent schools will pay their way, while less affluent schools are subsidized through the Camps various fundraising ventures.

Finally, Camp Joy also provides team-building programs for corporate executives and university and high school students. These programs allow participants to learn valuable leadership techniques and team building activities to enhance community and teamwork within their corporations or classes.

What program has the NRF help fund in the past?

The NRF has funded several programs at Camp Joy in the past including a mountain bike program, construction of a low ropes course and installation of a sport court flooring system, and provided that allowed the Camp to continue to provide programming for youth while they put other funds into the development of the corporate team-building program, which is a great revenue builder.

How has this program assisted your organizations development, reach or scope?

The mountain biking program that the NRF helped fund has increased positive camper experience, campers really enjoying participating in a new activity and the challenge that it posses. New programs and elements such as the mountain biking program continue to encourage partnering organizations and children to come back and try something new every summer. It is great to offer new programs for returning campers who come every summer.

Keeping with the title of the blog, what lessons have you learned through the development, design, implementation and evaluation of this program?

One lesson is the importance of deepening the relationship with partnering organizations, for example, Camp Joy’s relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. The Boys and Girls Club sends children to camp every summer, as well as, for reinforcement weekends throughout the year. Camp Joy, like many other programs, is limited by the fact that they only have one week with their campers. The Boys and Girls Club has been influential in helping monitor kids when they are not at Camp. Through the Club, Camp Joy is able to keep track of those children through communication with the Club directors. The Camp also encourages participation during the rest of year at the Boys and Girls Club by using the possibility of going to camp is an incentive to attend throughout the year. Additionally, Camp Joy reinforces the Boys and Girls Club’s community and health programs (Fit For Life, Ready To Serve (volunteerism), and Graduate) while the children are at camp.

What is next for Camp Joy?

Gunner reports that there are several future objectives at Camp Joy. First, the Camp hopes to expand its’ corporate team building programs. These programs offer great revenue potential and would be beneficial to help increase the Camp’s potential to impact the lives of children. Second, Camp Joy wishes to try to expand the reinforcement weekend model and try to become more of a year round facility in order to make the greatest possible influence on campers.

Contact Information – Camp Joy

Camp Address: 10117 Old 3c Highway P.O. Box 157 Clarksville, OH 45113

Camp Phone: 937.289.2031

Gunner’s Phone: 937.289.9140

Gunner’s Email: