Looking for something to do?
CAMP programs might be the answer!
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet famously wondered, “To be or not to be: that is the question.” For the Programs Committee at CAMP Rehoboth, the question was much more like “to DO or not to DO?” Better yet, the answer to the question was left up to you, CAMP supporters and readers of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth.
“We already knew the answer to the question ‘Where?’ We had a beautiful new community center that opened in early 2009,” explains Andy Staton, community member on the CAMP Programs Committee. “Now we needed to know ‘What?’ What kinds of programs should be held there? And we wanted to give the community the chance to tell us.” Andy, along with community members Gail Jackson and Matthew Rice, CAMP staff members Steve Elkins and Salvatore Seeley and Board member Glen Pruitt, met several times during the summer and fall of 2009 to create a survey to do just that. The final survey contained a list of activities that potentially could be offered through CAMP Rehoboth. Respondents were asked to check which activities interested them. There were also opportunities to “write in” other ideas for programs. Follow-up questions dealt with related issues such as location, fees, and potential barriers to participating in CAMP Rehoboth activities
The survey, which was to be completed anonymously, also asked some basic questions about demographics. The survey could be completed online using a web-based survey company or through hard copies available in the CAMP Rehoboth office. The committee collected surveys for an eleven-week period from January 11 to March 31, 2010.
“We were thrilled that 152 people completed the survey!” says committee member Gail Jackson. “That was an excellent response rate. We were also excited to learn a little bit more about WHO was interested in CAMP Rehoboth programs”. Most of the respondents were between 46 and 65 years of age, though nearly 9% of the respondents were under the age of 35. Overall, men outnumbered women, but not by much (54% vs. 46%). About ten percent of respondents said that they were persons of color or multi-racial. Gay men accounted for 55% of the respondents; lesbians comprised 35%, and 10% were straight, bi-sexual or preferred not to say. CAMP’s influence appears to extend far beyond the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes area. While one fourth of the respondents live in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes ZIP Codes (19971 and 19958), an equal percentage lives in towns and cities elsewhere in Delaware. The remaining respondents reported home ZIP Codes scattered among six neighboring states or the District of Columbia.
The survey itself listed 69 possible activities, plus there were several “write in” ideas. When the committee members looked at the data in April, they decided to see which of those activities were selected by at least one-third of the people who took the survey. “There were 19 activities that made the cut,” explained Matt Rice. “We then decided to focus on the top ten.” Gay Pride events received the most votes, with 91 of the 152 respondents saying that they wanted to see activities taking place in Gay Pride Month (June). Other cultural events ranked high by respondents were lesbian/ bisexual/gay or transgender (LGBT) film screenings, art exhibits by local artists, and art exhibits by LGBT artists. Rounding out the top ten activities were a walking or running club, cooking classes, dinner groups, travel groups, movie groups, and CPR/First Aid classes.
A list of activities is no good if no one does anything about it. “That’s not going to happen with this list!” says CAMPsafe director Sal Seeley. “Since Gay Pride events were at the top of the list, and since Gay Pride Month is next month, it was natural to start there.” Seeley, working with committee members Gail Jackson and Matt Rice immediately started planning events for the month of June, including an art exhibit in the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, live entertainment in the CAMP courtyard, and possibly a bus trip to New York City to attend the Gay Pride Parade there.
As for the other Top Ten activities, the Program Committee members are looking at ways to offer them at the Community Center, either as CAMP Rehoboth projects or as collaborations with other agencies in the community. “CAMP already has a rich history of working with community partners,” adds CAMP Executive Director Steve Elkins. “These new projects might be a great opportunity to do even more of that. It’s all about building relationships.” To be sure of hearing about the new programs at CAMP, Steve recommends that supporters sign up for CAMP Rehoboth’s electronic newsletter called CAMP eNotes. “It’s a great way to hear the latest news, and it’s delivered right to your email Inbox. We email news out once every two weeks or so. All you need to do is call the office or send us your email address, and we will get you signed up.”
The Programs Committee survey ended with an open-ended question, asking respondents for additional comments or suggestions. “In many surveys, people skip over that question entirely or write only a few words. But not our supporters!” exclaimed Board member Glen Pruitt. “In all, more than 50 people took the time to write something. Some people wrote paragraphs! Most of the comments were positive ones. We were impressed that even the less-than-positive ones were still constructive in their criticism. It shows that people care about CAMP Rehoboth and the work it does.” The committee identified seven over-arching themes among the comments. Those themes were presented to the CAMP Board of Directors at their May meeting. “The Board is taking those comments seriously. In fact, they decided to use those themes as part of their day-long Board retreat in July,” adds Glen.
Action steps from that retreat will be shared in an article in the July 22, 2010 issue of Letters. Be sure to keep your eyes open for it!