Similar to most people around the world who continue to experience the collective impact of the coronavirus pandemic, many in the Camp HOPE America community have also spent time feeling like hope was difficult to find. We may have feelings of despair, helplessness, rage, or even apathy. We may be struggling to navigate through the toxic stress our global community has been sitting in. We face uncertainty, loss, and a lack of control—something that may feel all too familiar to those who have felt the effects of trauma in their life. Our hearts are heavy with concern for the safety and wellbeing of those we know, and the millions we don’t who will experience further trauma during this pandemic.

However, while we have all felt the gravity of the adjustment to this new normal, we have held onto something that has allowed us to continue to look forward and focus on what we can do and what we can control. We have held onto HOPE: Belief in ourselves, belief in others, and belief in our dreams. A belief that our future can be brighter than our past. The Camp HOPE America community is no stranger to challenge. It’s a part of one of our core philosophies—Challenge by Choice!

Biologically, we know that experiencing a healthy level of stress or challenges is important—even good for us, as long as it isn’t pervasive and is supported by positive relationships. At camp, we encourage our campers to try new and intimidating activities. We come together and cheer for them. We believe in them! We know that they can do hard things!

During this time, we believe we can learn something from campers, who conquer a jump off of the zipline, sing with their cabin in the talent show, or sleep away from home for the first time. We can learn from their courage, their community-centeredness, and their ability to bounce back and keep moving forward towards their goals.

Because we don’t have the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of our current circumstances, and there are several obstacles we face in reaching our goal of creating a hope and healing centered community at our year-round events and at camp this summer, it can be easy to lose sight of hope. It can be easy to allow the obstacles to obscure what was once a clear vision of how to get where we want to go. There is a lot that remains unknown, but we want to focus on what we are certain of during this time.

What we know about goals: Sometimes we have to re-goal. Sometimes we have to re-route, re-imagine, and re-define. Sometimes, we have to stop and replenish our motivation and take care of ourselves.

What we know about our kids: They need us now, more than ever. Children’s worlds have been turned upside-down, as well. They are looking for community and connection. They are thinking and asking about camp.

What we know about you: If anyone knows how to be creative, build community, and improvise, it is the camp community and those who work directly with children. And you have already begun. We have seen Camp HOPE America programs host virtual college tours for campers, connect with families via social media, and move fundraising events online! One camper even dropped off care packages with essential supplies and groceries to his “Camp HOPE America Family.”

We are here to encourage and support you in this challenging and constantly changing time. The Association of Camp Nursing (ACN) continues to provide guidance and resources. Our recent webinar, “COVID-19 and Camp,” hosted in collaboration with ACN, is available to download here. Camp HOPE America has also compiled resources, including those that may be relevant to alternative year-round programming, or may directly support campers and their families impacted by the pandemic.

We are updating our website with current resources as they land. If you have any resources or creative solutions you would like to share, please reach out to camphope@allianceforhope.com.