From our President and CEO
August 13, 2021
To all our Board Members, Staff and Supporters,
Yesterday afternoon, the last of our campers arrived safely home as we closed down the final two Sunrise camps for the 2021 season. The best news: here in the United States, there was not a single reported case of Covid-19 in any of our camps. None! Zero! Out of 1350 campers and nearly 400 staff, we got through the entire 6-week camp season without a single reported case.
So much of this was due to the safety protocols that we developed earlier this year, and here I want to thank our Medical Task Force, led by Dr. Mark Atlas, for their wisdom and guidance. I also want to thank the Camp Directors for their constant diligence in making sure that these protocols were actually carried out, and both Michele Vernon and Bonnie Flatow – who staffed the task force – for their oversight and implementation of this guidance in real-time, both at our camps and in our hospital programs.
The guidelines we developed were not designed to avoid Covid – I have no doubt that there are asymptomatic cases among our children and staff that have not been identified – but rather to contain it. The fact that there were no reported cases all summer is just the icing on the case. Even at our camps in Israel – which has experienced an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases over the past month – there were just 4 reported cases out of 350 children. More importantly, there were no outbreaks. And while the emergence of the Delta variant in the midst of the camp season threw a scare into us, we found that our protocols stood up even against that mutation through a common-sense approach of distancing, cleanliness, vaccinations, masking and fresh air flow. In other words, by following the science and the medical experts, we were able to keep all of our staff and children safe.
While safety issues this year were always in the front of our minds, the impetus behind them was and always will be our deep love for the children we care for. These children had been isolated for the past year and a half, and we were determined to bring them back to camp for the summer that they deserved. Despite the masking and the constant reminders of the new rules, there was an overabundance of joy, laughter and happiness throughout every one of our camps. The Directors re-thought their programming to provide maximum fun within safe parameters, and the campers wanted for nothing. They played ball, they swam, they danced and sang and even had color war. The letters, emails, cards and general accolades by our parents attributes to our success in having delivered a product worthy of the Sunrise brand.
All in all, more than 1800 children attended one of our camps this year, bringing to an end more than a year of separation from the natural joys of childhood. Every one of you who are reading this played a role in making sure that this happened, and there is simply no way for me to express my gratitude to you for your efforts, your generosity, and for always making room in your hearts for our children.
Even as we now begin moving into our year-round programming, we are starting to plan next summer. What that will look like depends a great deal on the world situation, much of which is unknown to us at the time. But whatever it will be, we will adapt to; if this summer proved anything, it was that we can manage whatever gets thrown in our way. With your continued help, we will do just that.
Stay safe, stay well, and enjoy the rest of your summer.
With sincere thanks,
President and CEO