The Heart of the Community
Close your eyes. It is January 1, 2023. What can you imagine is possible in your life if you can fulfill a dream in the next seven months? As an executive coach, this technique is called visioning and I use it with clients who are seeking more fulfillment in their lives by focusing on what things they want to change or what they want to achieve. According to the Co-Active Training Institute, “chances of success are better when [a person or a team] concentrate on one or two key points of change.”
At this pivotal time of transition at CAMP Rehoboth, I am tapping this positive approach to help shift my perspective toward focusing on the future and what is possible rather than dwelling on the past. For me, this means not trying to reinvent the wheel but instead concentrating on a few things where the greatest impact can occur by the end of 2022.
While change can be disruptive, it also provides the opportunity to reimagine a solution by envisioning a goal you want to reach. The good news is, I see examples of this optimistic thinking all around me.
Outgoing Executive Director David Mariner did just that when COVID forced CAMP Rehoboth to cease in-person operations. Within a week, CAMP Rehoboth pivoted to a virtual service model enabling the staff to safely maintain a connection to our members, especially those who felt isolated and alone. The board thanks David for leveraging his knowledge of technology to rethink how CAMP Rehoboth could come to the community when it was impossible to be together in-person.
Take for example the Women’s FEST committee who knew—thanks to advances in science that significantly reduced the risk of infection when around others (i.e., vaccinations, boosters, and proper mask-wearing)—people were ready and willing to attend a wide-ranging series of events as in years past. I witnessed the result firsthand throughout the four-day extravaganza where I met and mingled with more than 1,000 women from all over the country.
As Board Vice President Leslie Ledogar stood on stage in front of more than 600 women both nights at the Convention Center concerts, a wave of emotion swept over us. The reason boiled down to the very essence of what CAMP Rehoboth stands for: being together with your tribe, with those who support you and welcome you unconditionally is what sustains us.
The camaraderie served as a reminder why CAMP Rehoboth is so important to our community. Events like Women’s FEST help the community center Create A More Positive Rehoboth.
This was echoed in remarks given by keynote speaker State Sen. Marie Pinkney, Delaware’s first openly lesbian candidate to win a seat in that chamber. Sen. Pinkney told her story about the challenges she experienced being accepted at home, at work in the private sector, and as an elected official. She said CAMP Rehoboth was always a place where she could find solace and a warm embrace when the struggle to feel valued and loved because of who she is became overwhelming.
Despite the challenges organizations like CAMP Rehoboth faced over the past two years, one thing remains a constant: CAMP Rehoboth continues to be the heart of the community—literally and figuratively. In the last few weeks, a constant stream of visitors is returning to 37 Baltimore Avenue just to say hi, or to view the latest art exhibit in our gallery. Coming home never felt so good.
Having said that, the board recognizes this period of transition provides a unique opportunity to proactively chart a course that ensures CAMP will be able to meet the needs of today as well as the future. COVID has fundamentally changed our community in terms of who lives here (influx of retirees and more fulltime residents) and the types of services that are not offered elsewhere in Sussex County and beyond.
Which is why we announced earlier the decision to hire an Interim Executive Director with the expertise to help assess the current and emerging needs of CAMP in this rapidly changing world and the resources which are required to cost-effectively deliver the right services.
In September, the Board will start a strategic planning process that includes stakeholder engagement to carry this storied 32-year-old community service organization into its next chapter. At the conclusion of this holistic process, CAMP Rehoboth will commence a search for our next Executive Director, who will have a clear roadmap on how to achieve our goals.
What lessons did we learn from the pandemic? Navigating uncertainty requires adaptability, perseverance, collaboration, and most importantly a strong sense of community. None of this will be possible without your continued support—which is something we never take for granted.
When the capital campaign was launched in June 2001 to build the community center you know today, co-founder Murray Archibald spoke words that ring as true now as they did then: “We need all of you to dream the dream, to build the dream, to be the creative force that will become the heart that is at the center of the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center logo and its mission.” We invite you to join us. ▼
Wesley Combs is CAMP Rehoboth Board President.