This is the 22nd season for CAMP Rehoboth and Sundance is celebrating its silver anniversary this Labor Day weekend. I’ve been a part of both since their beginning. Oftentimes, all those years run together in a fuzzy watercolor of memories, and I know I’ve repeated myself on occasion in these pages.
This morning I sat down at my computer to begin writing an article on CAMPshots. “A CAMPshot is Worth a Thousand Words,” I typed across the top of the page. “Hmm, not bad,” I thought, as I typed “a picture is worth a thousand words,” into Google. Within seconds, I was perusing a page on Wikipedia, then armed with pertinent info, quickly completed my introductory paragraph.
All good, right? No, something was wrong, very familiar, but definitely wrong. I typed “Murray Archibald, a picture is worth a thousand words” into the search box on the CAMP Rehoboth website. Oops. There is was. The exact same article I’d just started to write. Rewrite, I guess I should say. Even the title was the same.
Delete, delete, delete! So much for CAMPshots! Anyone interested will find that article in the August 13, 2010 issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth.
One of the lessons we’ve learned over the years of running an organization like CAMP Rehoboth is that we have to repeat information over and over again—in Letters, on the website, on Facebook, by email, and in press releases. We may think we’ve said it ad nauseam, but it’s usually never enough. That wasn’t the case with my brain playing tricks on me this morning, but it does remind me that the reason we need to keep preaching our message is that we are all bombarded everyday with far more information than we can use or retain.
We started CAMP Rehoboth to create a more positive environment for LGBT people in our area. Our message was, and still is, one of diversity and inclusion. Key phrases we’ve used over the years continue to be “room for all,” and in reference to the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, “house and heart.”
My partner and CAMP Rehoboth Executive Director, Steve Elkins has repeatedly over the past two decades recounted how 25 years ago folks in Rehoboth had a bumper sticker that read, “Keep Rehoboth a Family Town.” His next sentence is always the same: “We want it to be a family town too, and families come in all sizes, shapes, and orientations.”
Here in Rehoboth Beach we’ve come a long way from the tension that erupted in the 1980s. We’ve worked to find ways to get along with one another. We’ve worked to build bridges and to tear down walls that divide us. That happens when we are all able to live open, honest lives; when we are able to embrace who we are. Coming out is a gift, not just to the person opening the door of their closet, but also to the world around them—because it creates healthy relationships. By expanding those relationships we create a healthier community. I’ve seen it happen in Rehoboth Beach.
I’ve also been in places, and I’m sad to say, far more than I care to admit, where staying in the closet still seems like the safe thing to do. All over our country—all over the world, for that matter—a new generation is asking of LGBT issues, “What’s the big deal?” And yet, gay bullying continues in our schools and on Facebook and other social media sites. Progress never runs in a straight line: it rolls like a wave, recedes and rolls again.
The new CAMP Rehoboth brochure is titled “Redefining Inclusive.” I like the piece because it is not just a long list of the things we do here at CAMP Rehoboth. Instead it seeks to paint a broad picture of who we are as an organization. In it are scattered several quotes. “Every year I witness CAMP Rehoboth’s deep commitment to equality in our town during the diversity training sessions for our summer officers,” says Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks. Jeffrey Fried, President and CEO of Beebe Medical Center, says: “We’ve supported the work of CAMP Rehoboth for a long time because both organizations are working to improve the overall health and well-being of our community.
The brochure highlights our work in advocacy on both a state and local level; it celebrates our social connection through events and activities; it recognizes our support for creative expression; it illustrates our commitment to mental and physical health and wellness issues; and it shares our pride in the physical space—the home—we are able to provide for our community.
Like many of our volunteers and donors, I give of my time and money to CAMP Rehoboth because I believe that even in our rapidly changing world, or maybe even because of our rapidly changing world, we need a center, a heart, a place to call home—a camp in the wilderness of the world around us.
People come to CAMP Rehoboth for a variety of reasons: For some it might be for an HIV test or a support group; some come for information or just to buy tickets for one of our events; some come to parties and meetings, weddings and memorial services, retreats or theatre; some come just to use the WiFi and sit in the CAMP Courtyard or on the front porch; some come for advice and some because they have no other place to turn; people come with smiles and in tears, they come to share news of great joys, and with burdens of deep sorrow; they come because we are here, because we are visible, and because we truly try to provide a “house with a heart” that has “room for all.”
There is nothing on this page that I haven’t said a dozen times over the years, I’m sure. But unlike the article I started to write on CAMPshots, I don’t really care. I am passionate about the work of CAMP Rehoboth. Some things are worth repeating, recycling, and rewriting.
Maybe then I’ll remember what I’ve written in the past.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.