Virtual Sundance Struck a Chord
United in Mission; United in Love
CAMP Rehoboth took a chance on the fact that the community would embrace their annual Sundance event, even without the in-person dance or auction that has been at the center of the event for more than 30 years. The United in Love celebration, fundraiser, and community-building experience held Labor Day weekend not only provided a multitude of innovative ways to connect and celebrate, but also succeeded in raising more than $140,000 with the help of nearly 900 sponsors, supporters, hosts, and auction donors. The funds will support the nonprofit organization’s programs, outreach, and work to promote human and civil rights.
“My heart nearly bursts when I think about the success of Sundance,” says Murray Archibald, Sundance Chair and CAMP Rehoboth’s co-founder. “In the middle of a pandemic, the community came out to support us and our partner organizations in a remarkable way!” It was the first Sundance for David Mariner, CAMP Rehoboth’s Executive Director, who joined the group in October 2019. "When we began the process of turning Sundance into a virtual event,” says Mariner, “I was concerned about our ability to attract Sundance sponsors, supporters and hosts for a virtual event, but they did not let us down. For little more than a t-shirt, names on a list, and our eternal thanks, their generosity was amazing.”
Part of the event’s success was the broad range of socially distanced in-person events and virtual experiences. Sundance-at-Large nights at local restaurants followed all COVID guidelines and provided opportunities to safely dine out or carry out and still support CAMP Rehoboth and local restaurants in the area. The organizers also created a Party in a (Virtual) Box for attendees to enjoy in their own homes and at small-group watch parties. For those who missed it, the free package of games and Sundance music for home parties can be found under the Sundance page at camprehoboth.com.
Both the Sundance Kickoff and Experience videos are still available on CAMP Rehoboth's YouTube page. The videos include messages from Sundance chairs and CAMP Rehoboth staff, entertainers (Carson Kressley, Christopher Peterson, Miss Richfield 1981, and Magnolia Applebottom), and Delaware political leaders (US Senators Carper and Coons, and US Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester).
"The hardest part for all of us,” says Archibald, “was not to have the chance to be with our Sundance family. We missed the hugs, the smiles, the week of exhausting work, and the camaraderie that comes from working side by side with staff, volunteers, team captains, tech teams, stage crews, and the dedicated staff at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. But the astonishing level of support we received showed that, despite everything, we are indeed United in Love.”