Parents who enrolled their children in Reston Association's Science Camp for this summer were notified on Wednesday that the camp has fallen victim to sequestration.
Families who registered for the popular RA camp, which has been held for 17 years at Reston's were notified on Wednesday that due to budget cuts, the visitor's center at USGS has closed and therefore programs cannot be held there.
"This closure has resulted in the cancellation of many of USGS’ public offerings," said the letter from RA Camp Director Barb Beaver. "A few days ago, Reston Association received notice that USGS will no longer host Science Camp at its facility."
Cate Fulkerson, RA Director of Administration, Member Services and IT, said RA hopes to soon have an alternative location for the camp this summer.
Beaver said in the letter the closure is a true loss to the community. Children ages 8 to 12 attend five sessions annually at USGS, doing age-appropriate science-themed projects and activities.
"We have seen hundreds of campers grow up in the program," she wrote. "Many of them have become members of the camp staff and pursued science related majors in college ... We will truly miss the interactions between the USGS scientists and our campers at this unique location."
She added RA is searching for a new location for Science Camp an will help Science Camp staff try and find new summer jobs.
"We realize the urgency of this matter as it affects your family’s childcare needs and your children’s enrichment program for the summer," she said. "I will let you know in the coming days if we have found a viable option. We are also investigating how our other RA Camp programs and non-RA camps in the area could accommodate the children from the Science Camp if an alternative location is not found. "
Jen Towns, a Reston parent who signed two of her children up for all seven weeks of Science Camp, said she was disappointed to hear the news.
"We had heard from people how amazing the camp at USGS is," she said. I hope they find another location. Here we are in March, and as parents in Northern Virginia know, it is hard to find another camp this late."
The USGS said in a news release that all outreach activities will cease in April, shutdowns that will likely last through the end of the fiscal year.
USGS Spokeswoman Barbara Wainman said not only is the budget for the vistors' center slashed, but USGS provided guest scientists for the camp - something they could not commit to in light of upcoming furloughs this summer.
"The action is being taken at a time when the USGS is making tough choices on how best to implement the mandatory budget cuts," Wainman said. "The science agency’s first priority is preserving its most important mission critical responsibility -- providing science used to protect life and property."
Are you the parent of a current or former RA Science Camp camper? Tell us how you feel about this in the comments.
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