The Lazy Yet Busy Days of Summer
For those of us who live in Rehoboth, we know summer has arrived when traffic on Route 1 is gridlock almost seven days a week. The roads are clogged because of the annual migration of visitors who are here taking advantage of life’s slower pace to relax and enjoy all that the nation’s summer capital has to offer.
At CAMP Rehoboth, just the opposite is true. In fact, I jokingly refer to summertime as CAMP Rehoboth’s high season because the needs of our community do not take a vacation. Achieving our mission of building a positive and safe community inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities is made possible thanks to our small but amazing staff, countless volunteers, and a committed Board ensuring CAMP Rehoboth has adequate resources to get the job done.
When people find out I am the Board president, the most common response is, “Wow, I bet that is a time-consuming responsibility.” While that is certainly the case, the reward for me is having the privilege to work alongside an amazing group of people passionately focused on Creating A More Positive Rehoboth. I hope the following examples will help you better understand how CAMP Rehoboth is making an impact in our community today.
As Delaware’s largest community service organization serving the needs of LGBTQ people, CAMP Rehoboth has a responsibility to be a go-to resource on LGBTQ issues for a wide variety of stakeholders. Which is why Senator Tom Carper asked to meet with representatives of CAMP Rehoboth during his annual visit to Sussex County on June 17.
The senator spent more than an hour with an intimate group of LGBTQ staff and Board members, not only asking what our roles were but also what was on our minds. I shared CAMP Rehoboth was undergoing a leadership transition and that we are gearing up for SUNFESTIVAL, our biggest fundraiser of the year. HIV CTR (Counseling, Testing, and Referral) Counselor Amber Lee spoke about the mental health challenges of teenagers who are transitioning or identify as nonbinary. Board Vice President Leslie Ledogar expressed concern about how the overturning of Roe v. Wade could lead to reversing marriage equality for LGBTQ people.
At a time when basic civil rights are under attack across the country, I was comforted knowing Senator Carper continues to champion LGBTQ equality in Washington and that CAMP Rehoboth’s education and advocacy outreach ensures he understands the challenges our community faces every day. More importantly, I live in a state that protects marriage equality as well as the right to choose.
Speaking of community, planning has already begun for Women’s FEST 2023. Considering diversity, equity, and inclusion is a subject matter expertise of mine, I am embarrassed to say that 2022 was my first time attending Women’s FEST. It soon became abundantly clear why it is known as one of the jewels in CAMP Rehoboth’s tiara.
What started as a grassroots half-day event in 2001 has grown to become a spring tradition in Rehoboth Beach attracting more than 1,000 women from around the country. This four-day event is one part educational, one part cultural immersion, one part competitive sports, and three parts celebration. As we begin the strategic planning process for CAMP Rehoboth, it is my hope we will use Women’s FEST as a foundation for programming year-round, addressing the interests and needs of women throughout our community.
Finally, you may have seen our recent post on our Facebook page about the Delaware Division of Public Health’s (DPH) announcement of the state’s first case of the monkeypox virus (MPX). A 41-year-old New Castle County man tested positive for MPX.
As part of our health and wellness mission, CAMP Rehoboth has been partnering with DPH for more than X years providing free, anonymous HIV testing across Sussex County. Because of growing concern about MPX across our community, CAMP Rehoboth is working closely with DPH to provide the latest information to our members.
DPH advises people to take appropriate precautions and avoid skin contact with any individuals presenting with symptoms. Seek medical care—and avoid contact with other people—if you develop symptoms. If you have any questions or want to learn more about MPX, contact CAMP Rehoboth for the latest information.
I hope this snapshot provides you with a better understanding of what CAMP Rehoboth is doing on behalf of our community. A famous quote from Margaret Mead sums it up perfectly to me: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Stay safe and enjoy your summer. ▼
TRANSITION ⊲ I am beyond thrilled that our new Development Manager, Laurie Thompson, joined the team at CAMP Rehoboth as of July 5. Lisa Evans is onboarding Laurie to ensure she is well acquainted with all-things-CAMP-Rehoboth, including our big Labor Day fundraiser, SUNFESTIVAL. Make sure to check out my interview with Laurie here. ▼
Wesley Combs is CAMP Rehoboth Board President.