Local firm rescues sixth-grade camp

Enumclaw School District’s sixth-grade camp came down to the wire this fall.

Then it came down to a Weyer.

“We’re glad we could do it,” said Weyer, head of Enumclaw-based Helac Corporation which made a last-minute $10,000 donation that made sure more than 50 students were able to attend the district’s traditional, and annual, outdoor education program. “We hope everyone enjoyed it and benefited from it.”

“Every kid that wanted to go got to go,” said parent Wendy Seigel, who along with April Schroeder headed the fundraising effort this year.

Helac takes supporting the community seriously, especially when it comes to developing the next generation and supporting the needy, education and the environment, when the opportunity surfaced the company was glad to be able to give back.

“As a company we try to do the right thing,” Weyer said. “We’re all about supporting the community and making it a better place.”

As the parent of a sixth-grade student, Weyer was aware early on the fundraising effort may need a boost and Helac would support the program and its teachers.

“There’s a great group of teachers there who are doing the right thing,” he said.

Two years ago, the more than three decades old sixth-grade camp tradition, became part of the school district’s reductions. It costs a little less than $60,000 to send more than 300 sixth-grade students to camp for a week. Those funds cover food and lodging, camp staff, 24-hour nursing care, transportation, substitute teachers and salary for the district’s teachers who also attend.

A determined group of parents and their fundraising effort, along with a shortened three-day format, saved the program.

Parents have always played a role in paying for camp and used fundraisers to cut those costs. This year’s cost was $200 per student.

A deposit is due at Camp Seymour on the peninsula in May. Parents organized a coffee fundraiser and two walk-a-thons.

The group started fundraising as fifth-grade students and had a starting point from the prior year, but when the final fundraising effort was complete in September it just wasn’t enough.

“We knew it would be tough financially,” Siegel said.

Organizers were blindsided by the increase in scholarships.

Scholarships have always been available for those who need them. Two years ago that number was about 14 full scholarships and eight partial ones. Seigel said the district’s middle school free- and reduced-lunch numbers more than doubled.

Helac stepped up.

Enumclaw Middle School sixth-grade students left Oct. 11 and returned Oct. 13, while Thunder Mountain students left Oct. 13 and returned Oct. 15.

Weyer said Helac’s hope is the camp experience is a positive impact for campers who may not otherwise get that experience. He said one of those sixth-graders, or high school counselors, could be a future scientist. Camp could have made their week better or gave then the opportunity to share an experience with friends.

“It’s a great program. It’s a shame it’s as short as it is now,” he said.

The district continues to support the program as more than an outdoor science classroom. Traditionally, it’s been an opportunity for the students who have come from the district’s five elementary schools to build relationships at the beginning of their middle school experience.

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