Sometimes it takes legions of supporters to help make a project successful. Other times, it just takes support from the Legion.
This summer, Camp Maple Leaf is happy to welcome branches of the Royal Canadian Legion into the fold as one of our new sponsor groups, which is a natural fit given the long histories both organizations have in serving military families and their children. It’s a relationship that began with a simple courtesy outreach conducted last year according to Camp Maple Leaf Director of Development, Jay Hooper.
“Last year we sent a few copies of our magazine to Legions across Ontario,” explained Hooper. “We knew that the Legions would probably be interested in what would be going on at the camps. We were delighted when some of those Legions responded with donations to send kids to camp.”
As always, those unexpected donations were greatly appreciated at Camp Maple Leaf and were used to help increase the number of kids who got to enjoy a summer camp experience. As a show of appreciation at the end of the summer, we then sent copies of the 2017 Camp Report to all Legion branches across the province. Those mail-outs also included a personal note of thanks from Executive Director Kim Smith. As it tends to happen when seeds of interest about the camp get planted in organizations that support veterans and their families, the relationship began to grow to a new level of support from the Legion branches this year.
“The response has been wonderful,” said Hooper. “More than 30 Legion branches across Ontario have made contributions. And best of all, their average donation across all the Legions that donated was the equivalent of each Legion sending a kid to camp this year!
According to Hooper, one of the most positive results of sharing both the camp report and magazine with Legion branches was the education it provided Legion members on the diverse programming offered annually at Camp Maple Leaf.
“There is a perception on the part of a lot of folks that the portion of the camp program that services military families is just for actively serving military, and that’s just not the case,” explained Hooper. “Certainly it’s for active military, but it’s also for veterans and their families. Not only that, but the camp services kids who are facing other challenges as well, things like dwarfism and Tourettes. It’s a positive story, one we felt would be of interest to Legion members.”
Now the door to the Legions has been opened, Hooper says there may be future opportunities for the branches to help send kids from military families across the country to enjoy the transformative experience Camp Maple Leaf provides.
“The legions really are the link to veterans in communities across the country so it’s an important message to get out. Right now we want to continue to build our relationship with the Legion branches and make sure they know we truly appreciate the fact the Legions have stepped forward. One of the things we’ll be trying to do this summer is to encourage as many of the Legions that have supported the camp to send their representatives out to visit the camp.”
For more information on how to join organizations like the Royal Canadian Legion in supporting Camp Maple Leaf, visit http://www.campmapleleaf.net/.