|by Murray Archibald|
|The People of CAMP & the Dance of Love
I was at a men's breakfast meeting not long ago, and in the course of the morning the speaker uttered a short phrase that stuck in my head. "People are more important than programs," he said. Perhaps it was the alliteration that first caught my attention, but I remember repeating the phrase to myself several times, much as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz says over and over again "There's no place like home, there's no place like home." Some time later when I returned to the CAMP Rehoboth office, the phrase was still echoing in the back of my mind and I jotted it down on one of the lists that are never too far from me in any given moment.
The truth in the statement, "people are more important than programs," seems obvious to me, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered just how well we really live up to its meaning. To those of us involved in the work of non-profits, programming is a vital part of what we do, and we get very caught-up in "serving the community" and in "meeting the needs" of those around us. Yet if in our passionate attempt to be helpful to the community as a whole, we stop seeing each person as an individual with individual needs, our ability to serve everyone will be greatly diminished.
At another recent meeting, this time for CAMP Rehoboth, I talked about the "umbrella" of CAMP Rehoboth and the many things that are a part of our mission statement. I also talked about how difficult it can be to walk a "middle of the road" line as we try to listen to the needs of individuals and seek to develop and maintain a direction that works for a majority of the community.
Take Love for instance. Love and the Love Weekend related events have been a part of Rehoboth summer life since the mid-90s. Love has always been a benefit, though it doesn't come close to making the kind of money that Sundance does on Labor Day weekendprimarily because it doesn't have an auction associated with it as does Sundance. Love also takes a lot of effort to produce and in recent years we've questioned if the return was worth the effort. In the end we've always made the decision to proceed, not just because of the money it raises, but because we felt a major dance event was important to the people of this community. (Photo at right: Construction workers rise to meet the center point in the rafters above the main room of the new wing of the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center.)
Years ago, when Steve and I and most of our generation first started coming to Rehoboth we came because it was funand that's still the reason that friends get together and form group houses, and why people come to the beach in the first place. Rehoboth Beach is after all, first and foremost, a resort communityit should be fun. Those of us who were here in the 80s and early 90s remember the fun of having, not one, but two large dance clubs, something that seems almost impossible in today's world. I've said for years that everyone wants a big dance club, but nobody wants it next door. Plus, they are outrageously expensive things to maintain just for a few Saturday nights in the summer season.
Maybe Love is just a holdover from a different time in our lives, but I think we still need a place and a time to come together to celebrate. When I see the Convention Center pulsing to the music and lights of Love and Sundance; when I watch the fan dancers twirling their gorgeous works of art; when I feel the magic on the dance floor and the camaraderie in the air, I know we are celebrating the history of the dance and the role it has played in defining who we are as gay people. Then I remember why we make love happen every July 4th weekend.
Connecting to the people of this communitygay and straight, young and old, men and womenhas always been the most important part of CAMP Rehoboth. Making those connections takes many forms and we serve the diverse factions of our town in many different ways. I'm not sure that I've ever before thought of Love as a service of CAMP Rehobothan event yes, but not a serviceyet today it almost strikes me that very way. If we don't leave a place in our lives to come together in celebration we lose out on more than we know.
Time and time again over the years that we've operated CAMP Rehoboth I've heard various groups of people make definitive statements about Rehoboth that are only definitive to their particular group of friends and associates. Though we mix things up fairly well in this little town, people are still most comfortable in their own "family circles." Though on a personal level, we too are subject to that same kind of shortsightedness, from our vantage point here at CAMP Rehoboth we are fortunate to be able to interact with a great many of the family circles around us. We have noticed over the years how easy it is for some groups to never cross paths with others. Some men and women, for example, mix easily, others never do.
Each individual moves under the CAMP Rehoboth umbrella at their own speed and for their own reasons. Some people only know us from the dances and other events we produce; some people take part in conferences and workshops; some people come to us for HIV testing or other health related activities, some people only know CAMP Rehoboth because they enjoy our courtyard and the WiFi offered there; some people know us only because of Letters; many know us as an information center; others as a meeting place for their support group. Yes, each person comes to CAMP Rehoboth for their own reasons. The challenge for us is to be able to welcome and understand each person as an individual, and at the same time develop programs that meet the needs of the community as a whole.
Yes, people are more important than programs. People are the programsand the heartof CAMP Rehoboth. Speaking of heart, Love is a great time for us all to come together to celebratemen and women! Let's dance!
Thank you to all the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Volunteers for the period of June 13-June 26.
Josh Bean Tony Burns Joanne Ciconte Chuck Flanagan Tony Ghigi John Hammett Spencer Kingswell Myra Kramer Charlie Lee Michael Muller Barb Ralph Ken Reilly Chris Sampson Guillermo Silveira Linda Yingst
Rainbow Thumb Club Matt Carey Ward Ellinger Rob Freeman Tony Ghigi Steve Hoult Anne Mundel Bud Palmer Ken Reilly Tom White
Murray Archibald, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 08 June 27, 2008