Happy Birthday CAMP Rehoboth!
Back at the turn of the millennium I thought to myself, “Wow, this is the future!” Truthfully though, it was just another year, and 2000 was not so different from the 1990s. “Wow, this is the future?” seems a more fitting reaction. Now, ten years into the 21st century, it feels like a different story to me—and we seem to live in a much altered world from the one we inhabited only a decade ago.
Some of that is my own world view, I know—that, and the fact that I turned 50 sometime in the middle of the last decade. But still, in 2000, the World Trade Towers were still standing; George Bush had not been president for eight years, the country was not at war and in financial crisis, and Barack Obama was still an unknown outside of his home state.
Recently, I sat mesmerized—3D glasses perched on my head—by the special effects of Avatar. In my pocket, as I watched that film, was a new phone that can do far more than any of us every dreamed possible only a few short years ago. Every day, it seems, I find new web programs capable of improving my work and ability to connect. Facebook, Twitter—we don’t talk or think in the same vocabulary we did only 20 years ago.
Two decades ago, we started CAMP Rehoboth to improve relationships in our community—to “create a more positive” environment in the Rehoboth Beach area. Sometimes those 20 years feel like yesterday; sometimes they seem to have happened in another lifetime.
Time is funny that way.
For 20 years we’ve been so immersed in the work of CAMP Rehoboth and in the life of this community, we hardly notice the passage of time. Rehoboth is still Rehoboth, and though many physical changes have taken place here over the years, it is still recognizable as the place it was two decades ago—three or four decades ago—for that matter. But change has come to Rehoboth Beach—a change of heart, a change of spirit. As a community we have grown together in ways beyond our dreaming.
At the recent CAMP Rehoboth Chorus concert, Fay Jacobs wove a simple version of the history of CAMP Rehoboth into the narration: “As we all know,” she said. “Rehoboth Beach has a long history of diversity. The name Rehoboth itself means ‘room for all‘—a guiding tenet of CAMP Rehoboth’s mission. And we are proud to be in the heart of our community, serving the gay and lesbian population here, LGBT visitors, and also our wonderful straight but not narrow neighbors. Our programs are open to all, the new community center space is being used by all manner of local organizations, and our health services and events serve all.“
The biggest cheer came when she reached the “straight but not narrow” line.” In our restaurants, in our churches, in the causes we fight for, and throughout our community, we have become a cohesive family. In so many ways we’ve stopped seeing our differences and started recognizing that human struggles are universal and have nothing to do with our race, our religion, our age, our sex, or our sexual orientation.
The first logo for CAMP Rehoboth has, for the most part, been completely replaced by our current house and heart one. It was hand drawn back in the first year of CAMP Rehoboth and a bit awkward (much as was our fledgling organization in those days). Looking at it now, it seems to illustrate exactly what life was like 20 years ago—two very different elements trying, not very successfully, to live together.
We will be celebrating CAMP Rehoboth’s 20th birthday all year long. At the same time we will be working to develop a long range plan that will carry our organization into another 20 years. Even in the much altered landscape of today’s world, the core mission and purpose of CAMP Rehoboth will continue to provide a strong foundation for both our current operation and for our future plans.
Seeking equality and respect for all people is a timeless vision—a vision built on the shoulders of those who came before us, and carried forth in the dreams of those who will take our place in the years to come.
Wow, this is the future! And it starts right now.
Murray Archibald, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.