Auburn University summer camp engages young children in philanthropic activities

By Amy Weaver, Office of Communications and Marketing



Philanthropy is one of those subjects that can be difficult for even adults to grasp.

But for the past two years, the Women's Philanthropy Board in Auburn University's College of Human Sciences and the Early Learning Center in the college's Department of Human Development and Family Studies, have joined forces to educate children, ages 6 to 12, on basic money skills and philanthropic engagement through a week-long summer camp called Camp iCare.

Nine-year-old Joseph McCauley can hardly say "philanthropist," however, after attending Camp iCare, he claims he can be one by using his time, talent, treasure and trust to help others.

"I'm going to give food to people who have hunger issues and just help people, help the community become a better place," he said.

Kelsey Dalton, a rising sophomore in the Honors College at Auburn University, said the lessons used to teach the youngsters about philanthropy were the same she learned from a course taught by WPB director and Camp iCare co-founder Sidney James Nakhjavan.

"Basically, Camp iCare is a version of Gender, Wealth and Philanthropy for children," she said. "It's the same questions in their workbook that we work through in the textbook."

Ask a young person what they would do with $1 million and their wildest dreams may emerge. Ask them what causes pull at their heartstrings and their answers are quite real.

When Neve Dagg, the youngest iCamper, was asked to make a poster displaying an issue close to her heart, the six-year-old selected health care. She may not be aware of the national health care crisis, but it is an important issue to Dagg because her 13-year-old cousin has cancer. She wants to attend camp again next summer just so she can make another poster telling others about her cousin.

"They were asked to choose their own topic (for the Donor Diva/Dude project) and I had 11 and 10 year olds choosing gay rights because they think that equality is that important," explained Dalton. "I had a group of boys choosing women's rights. We had a lot of animal savers. We had some health care, diabetes. I mean, they're really mature topics for 8 to 12 year olds to want to help in the world."

By describing philanthropy as four T's time, talent, trust, treasure and three S's of money save, share, spend the young campers get the message.

"When it's on their level, they buy into the whole concept of earning money and spending it wisely," said Sharon Wilbanks, director of the Early Learning Center and Camp iCare co-founder. "We show them that philanthropy isn't just about giving money, but that they can give their time, talent and trust."

Dagg said she "wanted to help people who didn't have any money (by) being here (at the Auburn United Methodist Church food pantry) sending the food."

Campers spent the final day of camp sorting food at the local pantry.

"Time means coming in to the food pantry and helping collect food and stuff," said Wilbanks' daughter, Olivia, 7.

Creighton Williams, 8, said it was important to save money for those times when the water heater needs to be replaced. Otherwise, he advised spending money on food and clothing, and sharing your allowance.

Ten-year-old Ania Drake said she learned a valuable lesson about herself during camp. She said she is used to getting what she asks for, but by the end of the week, she came to realize that "money doesn't grow on trees."

She vows to be responsible about money, rather than frivolous, and save it for college.

To learn more about Camp iCare and other programs presented through the WPB, contact Sidney James Nakhjavan at the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at (334) 844-9199 or

Last Updated: Aug. 4, 2011

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