In mid-March, due to COVID-19, Lori and moved our family to Maine and camp. Like everyone who quarantined, it was filled with angst, stress and anxiety. We remained hopeful that we would be able to open camp this summer. There were several times as you may know where our optimism seemed fleeting. However we always believed we would persevere and never gave up hope. I remember walking around a beautiful snow covered Wekeela campus the third week of March talking about this thing called Coronavirus, and how it was affecting us.
We continued working on camp, and news continued to come in about school closures and event cancellations. Immediately we started thinking about how this could impact our 2020 summer camp season. We had virtual campfires and trivia contests. They were fun but we knew we had to have real camp.
We spent months coming up with different scenarios, learning as a team what social distancing looked like, how to properly sanitize and how to give campers the opportunity to bring some normalcy into their lives. We’ve always felt kids need camp, but now more than ever.
As camp approached, changes were literally being made minute by minute, based on unfolding information. We’d sit and wait every week as a team to hear what the governor of Maine was going to tell us, and how new guidelines would change the path of our plans.
Staff training had a different look as we conducted Zoom calls, and parent orientation was virtual. We didn’t get to have our campers in the building meeting their counselors and seeing our facilities. We knew our community was putting significant trust in our hands.
After all the trials and tribulations, the emotional roller coaster that the past four months had been, not to mention the countless zoom meetings we are so excited to greet our campers tomorrow!! We look forward to walking around the beautiful Wekeela campus each day and see campers and counselors playing and engaging with each other. I mean really playing and engaging not virtually. Campers will be engaged in water sports, creative arts, land sports games, dancing, singing, and just enjoying one another. And best of all there be no electronics here! Just good old fashioned quality facetime and real connections and friendships.
Summer camp has the magical ability to let kids escape any kind of stereotypes they may hold during the school year. They can be whomever they choose to be.
This summer, more than ever, campers will explore who they are, learn new things, working on their social interactions and building their self-confidence. This summer, we are able to watch our campers grow and remind them of the things that make Wekeela and our campers great leaders. Important things such as: 1. citizenship 2. responsibility, 3. trustworthiness, 4. respect, 5. gratitude, 6. fairness 7. love, 8. kindness and 9. Integrity.
As summer progresses and we put a heavy emphasis on keeping the Camp Wekeela traditions alive — even during a pandemic — it provides our camp staff with an opportunity to think outside the box to find ways to provide our campers and families a true camp experience in our new normal.
Walking around camp, this past spring I found myself thinking please don’t let camp be this eerily quiet in July and August. Campers want to play, they want to interact and they want to laugh out loud. Simply put, they want to be kids. Even the requirement of our staff to wear masks the first five days seemed not to phase them. They are just so happy to be having fun. And soon our campers will too.
Parents want their kids happy, engaged and safe. We want our community to know that we are here for them and will do whatever we can to keep the Wekeela community together. It’s such an honor that we get the opportunity for our campers, parents and counselors to help bring back some normalcy and to help them have a fun summer.
Thank you for allowing us to do what we love and for us to say we get to love what we do. Wekeela 2020 is here!