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Monday December 4, 2000

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Camp Wildcat raises enough money to stay afloat

By Maya Schechter

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Organization's leaders say they have no fear of dissolving

Camp Wildcat is about $2,800 richer after a benefit golf tournament yesterday, bringing in more money from sponsorships than last year.

The tournament, which took place at The Golf Club at Vistoso, was just one of many fund-raisers the club holds each year to bring in money for their events and programs.

Camp Wildcat, which was established in 1965, is run by University of Arizona students and works with Tucson's financially-disadvantaged and disabled youth.

Club members spend their free time participating in events such as weekend-long camps, day activities, mock camps in the University Medical Center pediatrics ward, backpacking trips for high school students and other special events for children.

Although the club has been struggling financially since it almost dissolved in 1989, its leaders say they have no fear of ever having to shut down.

"Even if we didn't make any money, we would still work with the kids - we would just have to improvise the events," said Mitzi Williams, the club's chairperson and veterinary sciences senior.

Williams said that this year the club has been doing very well financially and she hopes it will continue.

Camp Wildcat's fund-raising chair, Rob Bessett, a chemical engineering and entrepreneurship senior, said that so far, the club has been making more money in sponsorships and donations than last year.

"It's not like we are well off, it's a struggle to stay afloat," Bessett said. "But it's looking good so far."

The organization's budget is about $30,000 per year.

Last September, Camp Wildcat had a few problems trying to get funding from the UA Associated Students Appropriations Board.

ASUA President Ben Graff, who was last year's executive vice president, said that while Camp Wildcat has been something ASUA has always supported, they have not been able fund them as much as they would like to.

ASUA has very specific bylaws about funding clubs, Graff said, and so philanthropy-based events, such as the ones Camp Wildcat holds, cannot be funded.

"According to our bylaws, ASUA could literally never fund the events, but they have always found a way to give them some money," Graff said.

Also, ASUA funding cannot be given to non-UA students, and since Camp Wildcat works with hundreds of Tucson children, they can only receive funding that goes directly to the UA students involved.

The Appropriations Board has always been consistent in their rules, but each year, the new board members have slightly different ways in interpreting them, Graff added, so they never have denied a single proposal of Camp Wildcat.

"Camp Wildcat is an amazing philanthropy club, and I'd be surprised if ASUA ever turned its back on them," Graff said.

At yesterday's second annual benefit golf tournament, more than 20 donors contributed money or items to be used in the silent auction, including Silverback Enterprises, Desert Diamond Casino, Compass Bank and Holmes Tuttle Ford.

Eight UA students played in the tournament, while the rest of the players were adults from the Tucson community, Bessett said.

"It was a fun event, and it went really well," he added.

Other forms of funding include a Gamma Phi Beta car wash, which raised $1,100 for Camp Wildcat, an annual spring auction, percentage nights and grant funding.