Members Area

Founders Fund Current Winner

2017 Founders Fund Winner

Proposed by Kettle Moraine Garden Club, Zone XI
Seconded by Lake Geneva Garden Club, Zone XI

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee’s Camp Whitcomb/Mason transforms lives and teaches relationship building. Kids from violent inner-city neighborhoods, staying for the week along with day campers from countryside neighborhoods, experience transformative moments every day. Nature and nurture work in perfect synergy at the camp. The Bee Healthy Garden will be another important component in building positive relationships while increasing selfesteem.

As Milwaukee’s oldest and largest youth-serving organization, Boys & Girls Clubs has 43,000 members. It provides young people with programs and services to help with basic needs, building strong foundations for future success. Every year, 15,000 kids and adults participate in year-round camp activities. The same standards are reinforced at summer camp, where 1,000 overnight campers and 600 day campers learn self-control to allow healthy interactions. Outcome driven data shows us that 65 percent of kids respond that their experiences at camp may have saved their lives.

The objective of this winning proposal is to expand the camp’s Bee Healthy Garden to provide additional educational and social emotional learning (SEL) opportunities. The camp is a transformative place, which makes it the perfect location for SEL, a new curriculum designed to care for the whole child. It challenges the individual to seek inside themselves and to be empathetic to others. This curriculum is based on understanding and managing one’s own emotions, as well as understanding others and making responsible decisions. The garden at the camp would be the first of its kind and could be replicated by other youth development programs. What separates an SEL garden from any other garden is the preventive intent! We teach our youth coping mechanisms and skills to preempt the need for healing gardens. Camp staff will impart SEL practices to teach kids how to cope in difficult situations, while providing all campers with the means to manage their emotions. They also learn the art and science of gardening as a lifelong hobby and receive a take-home journal to reinforce these newly-learned techniques.


The Bee Healthy Garden sprung to life in the spring of 2016 with two bee hives and a Pizza Garden. Expansion efforts will occur in phases over the next two years. Final plans include several more gardens: a shoreline garden, gazebo, living sundial, yurt, and hammock village. 

The Founders Fund Award from The Garden Club of America allows completion of the yurt—thus offering counselors year-round SEL teaching opportunities in the garden for all children regardless of weather. The yurt will provide a safe and quiet place for counselors and kids to reflect and discuss SEL techniques and a location for special overnight adventures in the garden. Organizational leadership and camp program staff are fully committed to the SEL program and sustainability of the garden and have incorporated maintenance into the annual operating budget.

Will the garden change lives? Absolutely!


In addition, there were two exceptional projects that came in as runners-up this year. You may download the Word Document versions of the GCA's official press release for each of these projects below: