The Jon Whitney Foundation (JWF) is an organization with a very simple and well-defined mission. We raise funds to provide scholarships for youth who need financial assistance to participate in well-run, safe, Christ-centered camps. We also give Missionary Youth Leader Grants to support young adult leaders (ages 16-25) who intend to serve youth at one of these camps or on a mission trip.
At the camps we support, kids are taught the good news about Jesus and experience the reality of his love and acceptance through interaction with passionate, volunteer Christian camp staff. They learn to live loved and to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
“Independent private camps have exceptional opportunities to cultivate faith, integrity, and learning in their campers through a program touching every aspect of their lives. It is our duty to make the most of these opportunities.” From Marshall, Jessie. “Helping Children Become Better Citizens Through Summer Camps.” The Educational Register. May, 2003.
The Foundation was established in May 2001 because of a prayer offered up by Jon Whitney. Early one morning, camp staff at Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) in Orr, Minnesota gathered to pray by the lake. Jon, a 19-year-old camp worker, simply prayed for God to use him to touch the lives of the campers. Jon had struggled with respiratory difficulties his entire life. That same day Jon experienced respiratory failure and passed away. The story of his prayer inspired a small group of adults to form the foundation in loving memory of Jon. His prayer continues to be answered with each child that receives a scholarship to attend camp and each Missionary Youth Leader that serves these campers.
During the early years of JWF, most scholarships went to youth in the United States who needed help to attend Christian summer camps. As these camps developed, financial assistance from local sources increased. While U.S. camps were growing more independent, international camps began to request support. They are grateful for JWF funding as they seek to impact the youth of their countries through the life-changing experience of camp ministry.
JWF maintains a baseline income for operation costs and utilizes all other funds for camp scholarships. It is JWF’s desire to award an increasing number of scholarships each year.
JWF is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation. Contributions to JWF are tax deductible (where applicable), and donors will receive a receipt for their contributions. Donors also receive a monthly update on the work of the foundation, which will highlight the camps, campers, and missionary youth leaders around the world who receive funding.
In 2015, donor generosity enabled us to increase our grant funding and to maintain expenses at less than 8 percent of income (including international wiring fees).
The camps that we support are directed and staffed entirely by volunteers.