Looking Back; Moving Forward
It was two years ago that I drove up to Rehoboth Beach Delaware to experience Sundance for the first time. It was a spectacular night, and I was grateful for the warm welcome as the new Executive Director of CAMP Rehoboth. I started the new job in October, and a few months later, the first cases of COVID hit the United States.
Most of what I’ve experienced of CAMP Rehoboth has been during this global pandemic. It has been heartbreaking to have to cancel some much loved events, and challenging navigating changing COVID guidelines.
As you may know by now, Sundance is now Sun Festival, a week of events from August 29th-September 5th. We made the difficult decision not to have a large dance in the convention center, and instead have seated performances (with Jennifer Holiday and the Skivvies!) We also planned several outdoor events throughout the week and created a virtual option for our two big events.
COVID is far from over. CAMP Rehoboth prioritizes your health and wellness. At a minimum, we will continue to adhere to state and local guidelines around COVID, while some programs at CAMP have stricter guidelines. Staff and volunteers you encounter during Sun Festival will be fully vaccinated, and masks will always be available.
While much of my time at CAMP has been reacting to the pandemic, CAMP Rehoboth is also focused on planning for our future. It is wonderful to be in proactive mode! Here are some of the things happening at CAMP to continue to lay the foundation for a strong future.
• With generous support from the estate of Harvey Sharpe, CAMP Rehoboth has been able to grow our endowment at the Delaware Community Foundation. We are excited to see our endowment continue to grow with support from community members like you. We have also officially transferred funds to the Delaware Community Foundation to establish the Fay Jacobs Scholarship Fund. CAMP Rehoboth is thrilled we will be able to honor Fay by supporting future generations of LGBTQ writers, and grateful to all of you who donated to make this fund possible.
• CAMP Rehoboth is partnering with the Delaware Alliance for Non-Profit Advancement (DANA) to assist us in our strategic planning process. While we have a strategic framework currently in place, CAMP Rehoboth has grown, learned, and changed during the COVID pandemic. With the help of DANA we hope to get input from many of you as part of this process and develop a plan that takes us into the future while solidly rooted in our guiding principle of creating a more positive Rehoboth with room for all.
• With the support of the Longwood Foundation, we are taking on two very big projects which will kick into high gear after the busy summer season has come to an end. First off, we will be transitioning to a new development database (CRM, or Customer Relationship Management tool). Under the leadership of Anita Broccolino, our committee assigned to this project has identified the CRM we will be transitioning to. This will be a complicated process, but a necessary one. CAMP owes a debt of gratitude to Jane Blue, Anne Evans, and David Carder who work so hard on our membership program, and are providing needed assistance with this transition. Second, we will be transitioning to a brand new website. Our website transition committee issued an RFP and has received three proposals which we will be evaluating soon!
• Finally, we are taking steps to maintain our beautiful physical space. We have some big projects that will need to be completed in the next few years including replacing the roof at 37 Baltimore Avenue. Our grants committee, spearheaded by the amazing Leslie Sinclair, will be writing some proposals to support these efforts. CAMP is grateful to Eric Korpon, and again, Jane Blue, for keeping wonderful records and providing invaluable information about priorities for capital projects.
My time at CAMP Rehoboth has been unlike what any of us could have imagined before this pandemic. Nevertheless, CAMP Rehoboth has adapted remarkably well. CAMP secured to PPP loans, both of which have been forgiven. Many of our programs went online and reached greater audiences, and we found ways to create new events to bring our community together.
While COVID is far from over, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. This issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, for example, is our first 120-page issue since COVID began. Thank you to the wonderful CAMP Rehoboth team, our advertisers, and especially our advertising sales manager, Tricia Massella. As you may know, Letters went down to 11 issues this year, but I’m excited to share we plan to return to 13 issues next year. Thank you to everyone who supports Letters by advertising, subscribing, reading, and sharing.
And thank you to everyone who supports CAMP Rehoboth! With your support we will continue to work on building a bright future for the organization we all love. ▼
David Mariner is executive director of CAMP Rehoboth.