A Look Back on a Great (and Different!) Summer at Camp Promise

Camp Promise 2020 is a wrap! What a wonderful (and different!) summer it was. Our blog this month is all about our staff’s perspective of moving camp to a virtual platform and some of the things we learned along the way.

Camp is something truly special. As Kaitlin mentions below, our greatest takeaway is that the spirit of Camp Promise lives beyond the cabins, dining halls, and campsite; the magic is in being together as a community.

Thank you to our volunteers for helping make our events and activities even more fun and a big thank you to our donors – Sarepta Therapeutics, The Dunkin’ Donuts Joy of Childhood Foundation, Biogen, Novartis Gene Therapies (formerly AveXis), Kohl’s Cares, Stealth Biotherapeutics, Paraxel, and other individuals that made Camp Promise possible. With your help, we served 167 campers – nearly double that we served in 2019 – in new parts of the country.

Most of all, thank you to our campers and families for letting us into your homes. We loved spending time with you!

Shannon, Program Development Director

The little moments are what keep me at Camp Promise – spending time with campers, working with volunteers, staying up late to sweep confetti off the floor. So, if you had asked me in December whether I thought Camp Promise could run virtually, my main concern would have been whether we could establish those personal connections that are so important at camp. How would I learn a camper’s favorite color? Would we still be able to talk about music? How would we encourage campers to open up to us?

When we cancelled in-person camp, we knew we could not just let the summer pass us by without being able to interact with campers. That’s why we do camp! We had to provide opportunities for campers to be together, to learn some new things, and to have new, positive experiences. We worked diligently to develop a program and supporting activities that would be fun for campers of all ages, that would be easy for families to participate in or help with, and that were delivered at no cost to the campers we serve.

COVID-19 really challenged all of us personally and professionally, however, there were some positive outcomes from the experience. We learned virtual camp is not only possible, it is terrific! This summer will always be special for me; I am so proud of the camp we held and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to see all of you. Thank you for joining us and putting up with our (sometimes funny) jokes. I hope to see all of you this fall as we explore new ways to stay connected!

Meghan, Assistant Director

It’s September! Who knew that this would be the kind of summer, or the kind of the year, that we would have! It was late spring when we made the very difficult decision to not hold in person camp for the upcoming season. We took lessons learned from our online programming offered in the spring and got to work and embraced an online summer camp model. The gain of being able to reach a little wider and a little deeper into our established locations, meeting our campers and their families safe at home was invaluable to us and our program.

I could write an entire blog post on all of the things we missed this summer by not being in person, all of the things we wish we could have done. But that would take away from all the AMAZING things we were able to accomplish with Camp Promise Connect. Getting to work on building the camp boxes, felt (almost) like planning camp. The activities that would be included, and the theme days that would coincide felt typical to our planning process. Above all else, we knew we wanted to make participation as simple as possible for families, with the items in the box, and the platforms we would use.

When the time came for the first Camp Promise Connect session, we were a little nervous! We were not sure if anyone would show, or entirely sure how it would even go if people did show. But you folks came, and it worked! We could not have had the courage to try this very new camp platform without the support of you all. Thank you to everyone who has had their hands in making this summer possible.

As we look forward to a new year, and a new opportunity to be together in person at camp; we also want to recognize the doors that have opened with having a new way to connect throughout the year! We hope to use our momentum to establish “off – season” programming, bringing in some new events, and some encores of our favorites. Do you have an idea for an activity, or special guest? Let us know, we want to hear from you!

Kaitlin, Camp Assistant

Wow, what a summer it has been. This definitely wasn’t what we all pictured when we said goodbye to each other last season. It was weird not being at the campsite with all of you—cheering you on as you pulled up, pulling pranks on other cabins, and hearing “firsts” and rumors at mealtimes—but this summer did not disappoint. All of you, with your Camp Promise spirit and resilience, blew me away. This summer I saw the craziest of costumes, the most beautiful pieces of artwork, and had some of the best laughs—and it was all because of you!

What I learned this summer was that Camp Promise isn’t bounded by a location and a campsite. We at Camp Promise love to use the word “limitless”—limitless in the activities we do, the jokes we share, and the new friends we make. This summer, while it may have looked a little different, we took that word and its meaning one step further and delivered a week of fun, art, camp spirit, and crazy costumes to hundreds of campers all across the country, and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing volunteers and the incredibly unique and funny campers like you! Each and every person I met has left an ever-lasting memory I will hold with me forever.

These past four years I have been a part of the Camp Promise family have been the best years of my life! I am so thankful for my Camp Promise family, and it is bittersweet news to tell you that I am starting a new chapter in my life. In the beginning of August, I started medical school where I will spend the next four years learning and training to hopefully one day become a pediatrician! I certainly couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the time I shared with my Camp Promise family, the lessons I learned from Meghan and Shannon, the friendships I made along the way, and everything in between–so thank you from the bottom of my heart. This will never be a good-bye, but more like a see you soon—and I can’t wait to hear about all the unbelievable things each and every one of you do between now and then.

We will miss Kaitlin as she heads off for a new adventure! We have appreciated her commitment and dedication to Camp Promise so much and wish her the best this year!

Stay tuned for new opportunities for staying connected throughout the year! Thank you again for an amazing summer!

Kaitlin, Meghan and Shannon