City announces plan to offer free summer camp to youth

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- Thousands of Memphis students will get the chance to attend summer camp in the city for free.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland made the big announcement Tuesday and said some 2,300 students could attend. Camps have been offered in the past but not for free.

It's February now but before you know it summer will be here and city leaders saying the time to invest in youth is now.

"These individuals no matter what anyone says are going to be our future. They're going to be our future doctors, our future lawyers, teachers, elected officials and entrepreneurs," said city councilman Edmund Ford Jr. on Tuesday.

Talk of investing in Memphis children isn't new but on Tuesday Strickland talked about action, tweeting his partnership with city councilman Ford for free summer camps to young people.

"It's not just having fun but we also want to give them a skill set that may not necessarily be in a working capacity, if we can talk about financial literacy, if we can talk about things of that nature that way they can actually get something out of it before they go back to school," explained Ford.

Mimi Carriere, a grandmother, believes this can help curb crime.

"The more we can keep these kids in positive environments the better," she said.

Strickland also said this announcement comes after another announcement they made last month for city parks. He said this summer about 20 parks will have a full time staff during the day.

Ford doesn't want to stop there, talking summer jobs too for teens too.

"We want to take our summer youth program, with the jobs and increase it from 1,250 to 2,000 over a three year period.  I'm supporting any type of public, or private or corporate contributions to make sure that not only  giving access to youth this year but we want to do this every year."

A city spokesperson said funding for the 2,300 spots in the summer camps is already in the Park's Division general fund budget.

If the city would have charged for registration it would add up to about $200,000.

You can apply starting April 7 at community centers on a first come, first serve basis.