Earlier in July, we ventured into the world of at-home camp, and hosted a two-week, virtual and remote session called Everybody Camp! Over 200 families registered, and over 500 participants logged on from around the world to share in our camp community. We began each morning with a Courier Pigeon email that included announcements, the day’s schedule, a gratitude to someone in our community, a suggested do-at-home offline activity, and a video message from someone in our community. Throughout the day, campers and families chose from many avenues of engagement that allowed folks to opt into how much screen-time felt best. In the early half of the day, campers played Dungeons and Dragons, learned guitar, sculpted masks, practiced camp leadership, danced, and even baked treats during programs run by Friends Camp staff members who Zoom-ed in from across the country. Families chose from 19 programs (and some chose to do many!) including two programs for adults! In the afternoon, campers of all ages could join in on electives which asked them to be silly, creative, thoughtful, reflective, and more. Over the course of the session, families participated in seven Evening Programs that brought some of our camp traditions home including the soiree, game night, and the variety show. Everybody Camp also offered folks the opportunity to engage offline, on their own time through do-along activities like making postcards and favorite camp recipes.
We didn’t know what to expect when we decided to try Everybody Camp: would it feel like camp? would we feel connected? would it be fun? Thanks to the energy of the staff and the infectious smiles of the campers, each day provided optimism and light, reminding us all of the little joys of Friends Camp. We learned so much through Everybody Camp. We learned that showing off our pets over video chat is what camp has been missing. We learned that many members of our community have been involved in activism and protests in the Movement for Black Lives this summer, and we are so grateful to the staff members and families that helped inspire, educate, and call us to action. We learned that people seriously love Dungeons and Dragons. Most importantly, we learned that even when we can’t be together, our camp community will always come together.
On our last night of Everybody Camp, we gathered on Zoom for a closing fire circle, and asked folks to say something that surprised them and something they were grateful for. As we look back on Everybody Camp, we are surprised and awed that we had our largest ever Friends Camp session, and we are so grateful to all who logged on, read along, sent postcards, and allowed camp to continue this summer from all the many places our community is found.