The story of a box full of magic
We knew that the changes brought on by the pandemic are often painful, isolating, and disorienting so it seemed that our camp message of hope and connection was more important than ever! Camp Susquehanna Leadership Team and volunteers had to think outside the box and imagine creative ideas to help us get our love and care across to campers virtually. Who knew that one part of our solution would actually be INSIDE THE BOX!?
While in the process of brainstorming, researching resources, and exploring possible schedules, we heard the term “camp-in-a-box”. This term emerged during a resource zoom call for the IABC (International Association of Burn Camps) and recommended including swag, a backpack, snacks, etc. We loved the idea – but in true CS style, we decided to take it to the next level!
Camp-in-a-box was the missing ingredient to take our fun virtual program ideas and bring them to life! We had specific programming classes (cooking, nature, group games, team time, let’s move, talent show, yoga, wish log, peer chat, art, and karate) designed and led by incredibly organized, energetic, creative, and caring volunteers (Zahra, Mickey, Lory, James, Molly, Emily, Leah, Jess, Rachael, Jeremy, Cameron, Marcia, Ashleigh, Kim, Katie, Jay, Justine, and Ed). Each of these program leaders sent us their dream list of supplies. We told them “think big” and the big ideas started flowing in. “Can I send them craft supplies including markers, feathers, stick on eyeballs, mod podge, and fabric paint?” “Can we mail them a special kind of paper that dissolves in water?” Can we send them a yoga mat?” “Can I mail them a $65 locked box?” “Can I send them groceries and recipes?” “Can I send them soil, seeds, and a small amount of peanut butter?” “Can I send them all of the kitchen supplies needed to make an entire meal?” “And could we still including porch gifts, and a camp t-shirt and other thoughtful gestures (like glow sticks!)?” We wanted to be able to say yes to all of these ideas, but as you know it often comes down to cost and to logistics. Even if we could pack a box with all these items, would we be able to afford to ship it to our campers?
We compiled one huge Amazon Wishlist…..and people opened their hearts!! Paints, markers, cooking supplies, nature posters, glitter, you name it…the materials started rolling in. We received over $5000 in Amazon Wishlist donations for our Camp-In-A-Boxes, and the idea became reality! Our volunteers started early to pack individual bags for each session. We wanted our campers to be able to grab the “cooking bag” from their box and have all their cooking supplies handy!
On June 27th, 16 volunteers gathered, in extreme heat, wearing masks and socially distanced to pack our camper’s boxes. It took all day, but at the end of the day, we had 44 completed boxes! Each box weighed around 45 pounds! These boxes were brimming with supplies, snacks, and love!
The boxes would have cost A LOT of money to mail, so a few of our volunteers (Steve, Vinny, Madelyn, and Matt) hand-delivered the boxes to our campers! From Pittsburgh to Philipsburg, the boxes arrived on doorsteps, and the photos started to roll in….smiling faces of happy campers, who were now officially as excited for Virtual Camp as we were!! Parents were so grateful too, not just for the number of items contained in the boxes, but how easy it was for the campers to grab what they needed each day – our volunteers had a separate bag labeled for each day! Some of our campers even took their session bags on vacation so they could participate!
THANK YOU to everyone who donated materials, or volunteered in any way to make our “Camp-In-A-Box” idea a reality. The smiles on the camper’s faces when they saw what was delivered was absolutely priceless. You helped us give them the best possible virtual experience, and that means the world to us.
Camp Liaison to Burn Prevention Network