Budget conference: Camp Deep Pond gets $400K float

Deep Pond
Help is on the way for Jacksonville youth who need it.

Good news for at-risk youth in one of the most crime-plagued cities in the state.

House and Senate budget committees have agreed to slot $400,000 for the Camp Deep Pond initiative, which the Local Funding Initiative Request notes will make a big difference for Jacksonville youth via the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida.

“Several years ago, we created Camp Deep Pond from 63 acres of land that was gifted to us in Hilliard, Florida, where we take thousands of inner-city youth out of their violent neighborhoods in Jacksonville’s Urban Core and into the woods to experience the outdoors in a way that most never have before,” the request reads.

The children, 90% of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch programs during the school year based on family income, are immersed in “outdoor adventure and discovery,” learning teamwork and developing character along the way, reducing the effects of environmental violence and expanding opportunity for those kids who need it — up to 3,000 in 2023, up from 2,200 the year before.

The $400,000 will allow meaningful facility upgrades from the makeshift tents and port-a-potties in use, allowing for a permanent, multi-purpose activity center for these kids who need it the most. The project is shovel-ready, and the $400,000 will augment $300,000 in other state funding to ensure completion.

“Camp activities include character development, team-building challenges, archery, science and technology (STEM rocket program), biking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, and FFCWCC’s ‘Project Wild’ and ‘Project Aquatic Wild’ curriculum, and BGCNF’s ‘Ultimate Journey’ curriculum,” the request notes.

“For many of our young people, getting this far out of their neighborhood and into nature will have a life-changing effect on them.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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