When November rolls around each year, we typically reflect on how special our overnight camps were. But this year is different. Painful, to be honest. As you likely know, due to the pandemic, our overnight camps were rescheduled, reimagined, then cancelled altogether. Our hearts were broken as we mourned the loss of each session, knowing how much the loss would impact our campers with autism.

To add to the heartbreak, our events could not be held in person. Although we were pleased with the outcomes of our virtual events, they weren’t as strong. Further, grantmakers that typically support our efforts were unable to do so, as they justifiably shifted their focus to pandemic-related emergency needs. Most heavy was the knowledge of how challenging this year has been and continues to be for many of our campers with autism and their families. More than ever, they need Camp Encourage.

Despite the hard year and the disappointments, we picked ourselves up. We persevered. We stepped out of comfort zones, gained new skills, and innovatively created ways to make sure that our mission remained in the hearts of our campers, supporters, and volunteers.

In doing so and through it all, what became very vivid is that there is still so, SO much to be grateful for at Camp Encourage. Focusing on that which we appreciate has absolutely fueled us to press on through the muck. At camp, we often stress the importance of focusing on gratitude. as doing so can truly shape one’s emotional wellness. One of the activities we’ve modeled and encouraged has been utilizing a gratitude jar. We encourage you to engage in this practice by reading more and by using the label to the right. 

More than ever, our campers and their families have an even deeper appreciation for our camps. More than ever, they are missing the goodness that only camp provides. Its absence brought to light its immense impact. More than ever, we need your support

For 2021, we are striving to return to camp. We’ll be creative and focus on utmost safety. However, until restrictions are lifted and the health of our nation improves, the costs of hosting camp will be much higher due to increased space needs, potentially decreased capacity, and more stringent sanitation requirements. 

Our campers are missing so deeply the connections and a space carved out just for them--where each is wholeheartedly accepted for exactly who he or she is, strengths are the focus, and love abounds. Please join in making sure camps return and continue for years to come. 

With a heart filled with hope and gratitude,