BIG SKY — With summer just around the corner, Big Sky parents are looking for affordable childcare options to keep their kids entertained while out of school. Sarah Reilley is a mom of a 4 and 2-year-old. She says finding childcare in Big Sky while working full-time during the summer can be tricky.
“Big Sky has such an incredible community, but when you get out of kind of the school year period, you don't have a lot of optionality,” says Reilley, “Either you're watching the kids yourself. I mean, you could always trade off with parents like, 'Hey, I got Mondays, you got Tuesdays, they've got Wednesdays.' Like, let's find a way to make this work.”
Kimberly Hall with Greater Gallatin United Way knew there needed to be another option, and within days the organization went into action to create the Big Sky Summer Camp for 4 and 5-year-olds at Ophir Elementary School.
“I couldn't sleep at night knowing that families were struggling and had no resources available to them," says Hall, "And that's what really drives our passion here and our dedication.”
The United Way partnered with the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, Spanish Peaks Community Foundation, and Lone Mountain Land Company to ensure the camp is affordable and that scholarships are available for those who need them.
“We know parents are struggling to make ends meet, and so affordability is really key,” says Hall. “Our cost right now is $200 a week per child. But on a sliding scale, it could ultimately be free for some families.”
The camp launches on June 18 and runs for eight weeks, educating kids while having fun.
“We're focused on literacy or early literacy skills, educational skills, but also doing those things that are fun and play,” says Hall.
For Reilley, a program like this is a game changer.
"It's incredible. I mean, financially, it's huge, right, because it is very cost-effective to find an alternative, your kid's going to be happy, they're going to be stimulated, they're going to see their friend.”
Greater Gallatin United Way is hosting a fundraising event at the Bozeman Commons Thursday night, and donations can also be made online.