Franklin County continues to expand its summer programs for needy families.

Franklin County continues to expand its summer programs for needy families.

Now in its third year, Go! Great Opportunities for Franklin County Kids, a summer camp program put on by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services, is accepting applications.

Funding for the program, organized by the United Way of Central Ohio, increased by 15 percent over last year for a total of $2-million available to families. The funding goes to 33 nonprofits putting on 35 camps. About 2,300 spots are open.

Iben Smith, director of the Youth and Families Program at the Short Stop Youth Center, said his program, and by extension the other summer camps, are intended to keep youths out of trouble and keep their minds active.

"It all works hand-in-hand to help young people make sound choices and also help them become well rounded," Smith said.

Smith's program, which is an extension of free after-school programming, will focus on arts and leadership.

"One thing is that when youths don't have anything to do during the summer, they do things we don't want them to do," Smith said. "That could be sitting in front of a video game and not exercising or going out and doing something illegal.

"All camps want to keep young kids active and busy. When you are busy during the summer, it really keeps their minds fresh," he said.

Some of the activities Smith's organization will put on include African dance, theatre, vocals, baton twirling and yoga.

Adero Robinson, of United Way, said the camps allow youths to experience many things they might not otherwise get the chance too.

"What I am finding out is a lot of kids aren't leaving their neighborhoods," Robinson said.

He said United Way combed through numerous applications before they settled on the groups it will support.

"We received double the number of proposals we received last year; we received 80 to 90," Robinson said.

He added that the program was designed so camps are located throughout the county so youths won't have to travel.

"We wanted to make sure programs are available in as many different areas as possible," Robinson said.

The funding for the program is an extension of a federal incentive program.

The government gives money to counties as an incentive to run certain programs efficiently.

"The commission decided that the way they want to allocate these dollars is to give it to these young people," said Stephanie Tresso, a spokeswoman for the program.

Application deadlines for individual camps vary. For more information go to or call 227-8738.