I have been involved with SCOPE since I started working at the ACA (American Camp Association) in 1998. At that time, SCOPE was actually still part of ACA and my daughter Jennifer was the director of the program. I witnessed first-hand the hard work and dedication of so many camp professionals involved with SCOPE. Their commitment to making this program work well for nonprofit camps and campers was inspiring.
For me, the highlight each year is going to the SCOPE Dinner. I love hearing the personal stories that campers tell and the opportunity to understand what camp has meant to them through their experiences. For so many of these children, their summer would otherwise be unproductive and unmemorable. What the summer camp experience gives these children is a chance to be in a supportive and nurturing community with staff and fellow campers who applaud each other’s successes and nurture them when they need that as well. I can remember hearing campers share that they loved being somewhere where they didn’t hear gunshots in their neighborhoods, loved learning how to swim, or playing on grass for the first time in their lives. For so many of us, it is hard to imagine not having these things in our lives and we take it for granted. For SCOPE campers, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a camper and truly benefit from the camp experience.
As a side note, some of my fondest memories are of Molly Hott Gallagher and I selling raffle tickets at the SCOPE banquets and competing with each other who could sell the most! SCOPE events are a great time to reconnect with camp people that you don’t get to see very often but you know will be supporting SCOPE and attending the event.
Summer camp had a huge impact on my life. I was a very shy child who really didn’t want to go to camp but my parents had the wisdom to realize I needed the experience of being away from home. Within a few days, I knew I had found my second home and spent the next 10 years having the best summers of my life. I know that I am not alone when I say these things – my children and grandchildren can relate to the same kinds of stories. Camp is a place that makes you feel so good about yourself and gives you the confidence to try new and challenging things in life. It is also a place that fosters friendship and community. I am so glad that SCOPE can give the gift of camp to so many less fortunate children every summer.