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Campership Funds

Change A Kid’s Life Today! Donate to the Fresh Start Funds in honor of camping legends: R.W. Hogrefe, Gordie Kaplan, and Marcy & Bob Brower.

ACA Illinois is committed to increasing the quality of the camp experience and getting more kids to camp. Through the Campership Funds administered by ACA Illinois, campers who may not otherwise have the chance get to attend camp. Each year, young people are referred by social workers, teachers and other referral agents because they feel the child would benefit greatly from a camp experience.

Meet Two of Our Campers

Meet two campers who were referred and received camperships through our programs below. Please note that camper names have been changed to respect the confidentiality of the campers and their families.

Meet Emily

"Over the last several years Emily has struggled to make and maintain friendships. Emily has been in the same social setting and has developed a repetitive pattern of socialization. Emily is very sensitive and needs to learn how to cope with social interactions, develop appropriate boundaries and practice 'give and take' of social relationships. I believe the camp program would be a wonderful setting for Emily to unite with peers and in turn build their social and emotional skills. "

- Emily's Social Worker

​Emily received a campership through the Russell W. Hogrefe Fresh Start Fund and was able to attend camp. Her social worker indicated Emily grew in confidence and the ability to develop and maintain emotionally stable social relationships. Emily is looking forward to returning to camp next summer.

Meet Elliott

"Elliott is currently homeless. Both of Elliott’s parents were laid off within 4 months of each other, causing them to leave their home and stay with different family members for short amounts of time. Elliott struggles to feel safe and settled. His school work suffers from the instability."

- Elliott's Social Worker

Elliott was awarded a campership through the Gordie E. Kaplan Campership Fund and attended camp. He returned with his social worker reporting that he had developed strong skills in interacting with new people and situations - both vital in his current living situation. Elliott is hoping to return to camp every summer.

The Marcy & Bob Brower Campership Fund

The Marcy & Bob Brower Campership Fund is an example of the people it's named after; individuals who always give back. As owners/directors of Circle M Day Camp and leaders in the camp community, Marcy and Bob continuously worked towards bettering the world through camp. Using social justice efforts, they influenced and created change within ACA and the camping world. Even in their retirement, the Brower's continued to give back through fund donations and by mentoring the next generation of camp leaders.

Gordie Kaplan Campership Fund

The Gordie Kaplan Campership Fund was created to honor the legacy and work of Gordie Kaplan. As a lifelong learner, Gordie has dedicated his life's work to mentoring camp professionals, helping organizations strengthen their programs and sending more campers to camp each summer. After a long career in camping, Gordie retired from his role as Executive Director in 2016. 

Russell W. Hogrefe Fresh Start Fund

The Russell W. Hogrefe Fresh Start Fund was established by Russell W. Hogrefe during his tenure as Executive Director of the American Camp Association, Illinois Section. He served in that position from 1979 until his retirement in 1996. Russ spent his entire professional career providing camping and other services to families with very low income. He directed social service agencies in New York City and Chicago before coming to the ACA Illinois Section.

How Campership Funds Are Allocated

Teachers, social workers, counselors or other professionals refer campers. The Board of Directors of ACA Illinois appoints a campership committee to review applications. Once selected, ACA Illinois staff and the person making the referral select an appropriate day or resident camp program. The camper's family is encouraged to pay whatever they can afford for the camping experience. The camp provides a partial campership and the Fund pays the balance.

ACA Illinois is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. 100% of donations are used for camperships. No administrative fees are taken from this fund.

Donate Today!

To donate by check, please make your check payable to: American Camp Association, IL, with mention of the fund the donation should be applied to on the memo line.

Our mailing address is:

American Camp Association, Illinois

PO Box 5412, Evanston, IL 60204

Online donations can be made by credit card here.

Questions About Our Campership Funds or Donating?

Questions can be directed to Colette Marquardt, Chief Executive Officer at

Mailing Address:

American Camp Association, Illinois   I   PO Box 5412, Evanston, IL 60204

Mailing Address:

American Camp Association, Illinois

5 S Wabash Ave

Suite 1406

Chicago, IL 60603

Phone: 312-332-0833



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