As we near the end of the year, we will be sharing all the things we are grateful for this year with each of our JBBBSLA programs. We know it’s been a challenging year, but there have been many bright spots, and we wanted to share them with you! Each week we will be spotlighting a different program, and how even with all the challenges, our kids have persevered! Next up: Camp Bob Waldorf.
Camp Bob Waldorf summer camp looked a little different this year. With restrictions in place due to COVID, staff had to pivot quickly in the early stages of the pandemic to come up with creative ways to benefit our campers and keep them safe. That’s where Virtual Camp Bob Waldorf came in! To make sure virtual camp would be interactive for all, staff packed up assorted goodies and activities and created 300 “Camp In a Box” boxes for our campers. Items included art supplies, science kits, puzzles, cooking ingredients, and models to build, providing hours of entertainment through Zoom.
The unprecedented stress of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt by all, but the young people we serve are likely to bear the heaviest burdens of trauma and economic fallout. Even in the best of times, the children we serve face adversity at a higher rate than the average young person in Los Angeles. Participating in activities with their camp friends immediately transported our campers to a place of joy and provided a respite from the enormous stress we are all feeling being homebound. It was our goal to give campers a dynamic virtual camp experience that positively impacted their self-esteem, identity, and feeling of community. Intimate “bunk break-out sessions” provided the fun and games and emotional support these kids so desperately craved. And just like traditional camp, virtual activities represented our Four Pillars of Camp: Respect, Identity, Inclusion, and Community.
Programming took place Monday through Thursday and each activity was geared to a particular age group – so in a given week, each camper experienced one to three activities per day. Campers also went on virtual field trips and experienced things like private trips to the zoo, a magic show with a Magic Castle magician, and a tour of a Louisiana bayou. Our campers also had the chance to meet and engage with counselors from other parts of the world, like Israel, Brazil, Australia and the UK.
Summer camp wasn’t complete without our Fire Circle at the end of the summer. Campers and counselors gathered together to share and reflect on their favorite parts of the summer, as well as having the opportunity to look forward. Laughter and tears were abundant as our campers were grateful for camp – even though virtual. Be sure to click the video link below to enjoy a few minutes of the summer’s wrap up.
“He loved the whole experience! He was moved to tears after you all said goodbye. Thank you for enriching his life and giving him something positive to look forward to during this time of COVID. He’ll be able to look back on his life and recall all the amazing people, crafts, and experiences he was able to enjoy the summer of 2020!!” – Parent
Thanks to creative and supportive staff, and the generous support of our donors, 2020 Camp Bob Waldorf may have looked different this summer than its previous 82- year history – but it definitely delivered the same heartfelt fun, love and support to campers and enabled them to thrive! Winter retreats are scheduled to do the same!
If you’d like to learn more about our camp programs, click here.
Next up: we will tell you all about our incredible Teen Talk app!