It Takes a Village

Summer Camp 2021 may have ended with excitement, laughter, tears of joy, and magical memories, but it all started with some hard questions posed eight months ago by our management team and members of our medical team. When and how can we safely offer our first in-person camp experience in 2021, and what would that camp look like?  With so many variables and challenges to consider along the way, the answer wasn’t clear at first. However, the determination, creativity, and passion for serving our kids was easy to see amongst members of our staff, Board, Medical Advisory Committee, Summer Camp Task Force, volunteers, supporters and camper community! It really did take a camp village to make Summer Camp a reality this July, and we’re so grateful to everyone for working together to bring camp to life, both on screen and on campus!

After leaving no stone unturned, surveying our camper families and volunteers, countless planning meetings, and vetting multiple models for how to safely provide Summer Camp this year, Camp One Step enthusiastically announced in April our plans to offer a hybrid model (offering both virtual activities and in-person activities) during the two weeks in July. This model offered the best of both worlds as 152 campers were able to take part in online activities during Week One, and 152 campers were able to join us in person in Williams Bay, WI on Lake Geneva during Week Two.  Several children took part in both opportunities, and in total 221 kids were served during Summer Camp ‘21! 

Our Programs team, Summer Camp Admin team, Program Leaders and Counselors kicked off Week One’s virtual session with one goal in mind for our kids: fun!  Their dedication and months of planning shined through, as campers were treated to many memorable moments throughout the week.  During bird walks with Charlie at the zoo, smashing grapes on a trip to Italy, building sand castles in Ireland, exploring outer space, cooking contests, trivia nights, dance parties, fireside chats with friends, goat yoga and STEM classes with Chad, campers laughed, discovered, imagined, and stayed connected to their camp friends from wherever they were (at home, traveling, and even from the hospital). Thanks to our Postmaster team, campers were able to send notes and letters to their camp family during the program.

Week Two was just as special, as for the first time in two years our campers and volunteers arrived back at Summer Camp to see their friends in person! As many of our campers shared, while there were some new safety guidelines in place such as wearing masks, living and playing in smaller groups, and physical distancing to keep everyone safe, Camp felt like Camp, and it was good to be home!  Wherever you looked, kids were playing by the waterfront, telling stories around the campfire, making s’mores, playing games led by counselors, creating arts and crafts led by other amazing volunteers, watching outdoor movies, and enjoying tasty treats prepared by Quartermaster volunteers. Our Roverback team supported all of camp by making sure outdoor spaces were set up, and supplies like tents, water, hand-washing stations and electrical needs were ready and working. Our Medical volunteers were with the kids every step of the way, ensuring that they were cared for and that any healthcare needs were met. We are extremely proud to share that the end of camp testing showed zero Covid-19 cases, and there were no reported illnesses once the campers, staff and volunteers returned home

Special thanks to our village of Medical Advisory Committee Leadership and Admin teams Program Leaders Counselors Support Teams Medical Volunteers Supporters Campers and their families Programs Staff and Medical Director

Special thanks for in-person Summer Camp goes to our incredible volunteer leadership team: Summer Camp Director – Jessica Hopper, Summer Camp Assistant Director – Erin Fullmer, and Summer Camp Coordinator – Mark Lowry, as well as the entire Summer Camp Admin Team, for their incredible work to help create and facilitate a program that had never been done before.

To our Medical Director – Susie Burke, and members of the Medical Advisory Committee and Summer Camp Task Force, for their extensive research, guidance and leadership in creating a safe environment which allowed us to offer in-person experiences.

To our hospital based medical partners for sharing the value of camp with their patients and referring them to our programs, as well as our on-site medical team for their wonderful execution of the safety protocols and care of our campers and everyone on campus.

To our Camp One Step Programs Staff members: Darryl Perkins, Devin Ryan and Andrea Mayoral for their tireless efforts, dedication, and commitment to serving our families.

To our donors, for providing resources to ensure that any child who wanted to take part in Summer Camp could do so. We took on significant additional expenses to execute this hybrid program including tents, COVID-19 test kits, cleaning supplies, and other services and equipment. You are always there for our kids, and we thank you for standing with us.

To our camper parents, we thank you for trusting your children in our care, driving them to campus and ensuring that all pre-camp safety testing and guidelines were being followed. 

And last but definitely not least, to our campers, thank you for bringing your energy, enthusiasm, and joy to camp. Your smiles, strength, and stories inspire us. 

The incredible teamwork, determination and commitment shown by our entire community of campers, families, volunteers, supporters, staff and Board is the heart and soul that drives Camp One Step forward together.  Thanks to the efforts of so many, Summer Camp 2021 was a huge success and created memories that will never be forgotten!

As we look ahead to the fall, the health and safety of our camp community will remain a top priority in determining how we will offer exceptional programs and meaningful experiences for all our campers. Therefore, we will continue to assess ongoing health and safety conditions and other key variables as each program approaches, in order to determine the best and safest way to deliver each individual program. Stay tuned as more details will be provided soon regarding upcoming camp programs, as well as registration information.