Last year Camp Colley Foundation worked diligently to deepen our impact for Phoenix children’s learning and growth at camp. We were prepared to host 480 underserved Phoenix campers in our 2020 season (up from the average of 300 in years past) through an extended 5-day, 4-night camp experience. Unfortunately Camp Colley, like all other youth-serving programs, were adversely impacted by COVID-19. Due to the nature of our work we decided in early May that we could not safely operate a sleep-away camp for children while maintaining CDC guidelines on virus mitigation.
To activate the brains and bodies of underserved Phoenix children through the summer months we created virtual programs focused on environmental education and outdoor exploration. Activities encourage children and their parents/caregivers to participate together to learn about our local environment while spending time learning outdoors. Topics ranging from ecology, natural habitats, native Arizona animal and plant species, waste reduction, recycling projects and more are offered through experiential written lessons in English/Spanish accompanied by engaging video instruction. The program was disseminated through the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department to over 2,500 households who typically participate in reduced-cost summer programs in Phoenix and at Camp Colley.
We recognize that this experience is different than attending Camp Colley. We believe that we have an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19; bringing 80 children and 27 adult staff to camp for 9 consecutive weeks would have been an irresponsible decision. This virtual program is the next-best thing to maintain safety, stimulate learning, and get kids excited about Camp Colley 2021.
Like so many, our organization is in a peculiar space while we adapt to social distancing requirements and restrictions preventing in-person programs. Cuts to funding and a loss of our income-generating rental season that takes place after camp have mounted to shortages in anticipated revenue. While we’re confident we will rebound in the coming months leading up to next summer, we need your support more than ever to continue providing environmental and social-emotional learning to underserved Phoenix children and ensure in-person camp is available for our 2021 season.
We will report back with initial results from our virtual summer program participation. If you would like to learn more about these and other year-round program efforts leading up to our Camp Colley 2021 season please reach out – we would love to hear from you!
Richard Berg, Executive Director
Camp Colley Foundation