To our UKANDU community,
I am reaching out again to share important news about our 2020 summer programming. Given the ongoing and uncertain course of the current novel coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak, after consultation with our medical director, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our traditional UKANDU summer programming through July. This includes Camp UKANDU (scheduled in June) and UKANDU Family Camp (scheduled in July). We will evaluate our plans for the UKANDU Teen Retreat (scheduled for August) nearer that date.
This will mark the first time in 35 years that we have not held our traditional programming and we want you to understand why we have made this determination. Though we are deeply saddened by the circumstances that have forced this decision, we believe this is the only responsible action. UKANDU is fully committed to the health and safety of our campers, camper families, volunteers and staff. This is and will always remain our highest priority. Uncertainty surrounds the duration of this current outbreak as well as the risk of future outbreaks. These realities mean we cannot be confident in our ability to keep this virus from infecting our campers and campers’ families. Many campers and volunteers bring underlying health conditions which place them at high risk for life-threatening complications, were they to become infected with COVID-19. Additionally, because all healthcare workers are needed on the front lines to battle this crisis, we are unable to guarantee medical personnel would be available to provide this critical component to our unique programming.
Our mission is to bring joy, hope and connection to communities battling childhood and adolescent cancer. Our commitment to this mission remains steadfast. The staff and volunteers have begun planning a number of new and familiar camp activities that will be adapted for at-home, virtual participation. These activities will begin popping up even before June, but we will also host a number of special live and interactive virtual programs for the scheduled week of camp:
- Arts and Crafts
- Singing and Dancing
- Skits and Campfires
- Maybe even “Sprout Ball” and Water Balloon Fights … well, maybe something more friendly for at-home environments.
There is no question that we are terribly sad about losing our traditional programs for this summer. Yet, over the last couple years, we have had to turn away more than 100 campers from our programs. Virtual programming means EVERYONE GETS TO PARTICIPATE THIS YEAR! Silver linings are sometimes hard to see and too often still leave us unfulfilled. But it is times like these where we can really show our “You Can Do!” spirit and that’s what we’re going to do… that’s what we’ve always done at UKANDU.
One more time, to our community, thank you for your support. Some of you are donors and some of you are corporate sponsors. Some of you are parents who share their children with us and some of you will have attended camp over the last three decades. Some of you are the more than 100 volunteers who take a week away from work, from vacation and from family. UKANDU would not exist without all of you doing what you do. Our mission reflects our earnest goals for this organization. What we do together has been summed up by others as simply providing the “gift of childhood”.
As we continue to navigate confusing and scary times, please remember your own “You Can Do” spirit. Be good to yourselves, be good to others and stay safe.
Jason Hickox – Executive Director