The trip is on, no matter how many Berkeley Township school district sixth-graders actually end up going to Stokes State Forest in June.
"I don't care if five kids in a mini-van go," said resident Gerry Morey, who is president of the nonprofit Berkeley Township Environmental Education Program Foundation. "I want the program to live."
It won't be five just kids boarding the bus. As of today, 152 children's parents have indicated they want their children to attend the Stokes trip this year, foundation member Peggy Crawford said.
The cost per child is $150 per student. Crawford and other foundation members have kicked fundraising efforts into high gear to prepare for the trip in June.
"Some of the fundraisers we are doing are for kids to pay for their tuitions," Crawford said.
And for those who might ask why the fundraising was not done earlier, Morey and foundation member Cheryl Altieri have an answer.
They say they were stonewalled by school officials and some Board of Education members when they tried to get approval for fundraising events as far back as last October.
"Because of the resistance from the school board, that's how long it took us to break the wall down," Altieri said.
Morey, Crawford and Altieri were on hand yesterday to hand a $700 check to Eileen Giffoniello, who won the foundation's 50/50 raffle held at the Berkeley Little League recently.
"I'm very happy," Giffoniello said. "I really believe in this program. I'm ready to donate a portion of it back."
The Board of Education unanimously approved two resolutions at the March 8 board meeting - one approving the trip and setting aside $5,000 to pay for the trip's two coordinators. The other authorized the Berkeley Township Environmental Education Program Foundation to raise money to hold the trip this June for the current year's sixth-grade class.
We've made great strides," Morey said. "There is open communication between the board and us. We are going to clear the roadblocks for this program and have it live on longer than we are."
The Stokes trip — a three-day, two-night program at Stokes State Forest in Sussex County run by Montclair State University's New Jersey School of Conservation — had been part of the curriculum for the district's fifth-graders for 40 years.
But the program came under fire during the 2008 budget process. Voters defeated a referendum on the Stokes trip and it was cancelled for the 2008-09 year.
The trip was reinstated in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, after a grassroots campaign by parents, students and some staff, and was designated for the district's sixth-graders.
The trip was again cut from the 2011-2012 school budget, when the foundation was first suggested and formed as a way to fundraise for the trip
Many newer residents don't understand what the nearly 45-year-old tradition is about, Morey said.
"The only way we are going to make this program continue is through education," he said.
The foundation's next fund-raiser will be a May 6 car wash from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Jamaica Boulevard and Barbados Drive in Holiday City.
Other upcoming fundraisers include:
Get Buzzed Barber Shop at 335 Route 9 in Forked River will donate $2 from every regular-priced hair cut to the foundation from May 12 through May 19. Men's cuts are $15, children's cuts are $12.
On May 21 Tony's Pizza at Penn Plaza in Bayville will donate 25 percent of the day's proceeds.