The young siblings of cancer patients deserve a chance to shine, even in the best of times. This year it was even more important because of the impact of COVID-19, so we gave them the entire month of July to be in the spotlight!
BRASS Camp, which is just for siblings, is normally held during the last full week in July at Camp Maria in Leonardtown, MD. This year’s pandemic made us move camp to online, but it gave us the opportunity to devote an entire month to siblings. An entire month!
Parents who feared their children might not be able to reconnect, instead watched as they connected daily through virtual campfires, arts and crafts, game nights, movies, bingo, and more. And because we were online, we were even able to facilitate a Minecraft server where avid video gamers could create virtual worlds together.
With more than a dozen activities a week, including live evening activities and class videos, we treated the siblings to more than 100 hours of camp programming. Plus, they had the chance to talk with – and learn from – other campers and staff (who were once campers themselves) who knew exactly what they’re going through. Campers met in cabin groups at least once per week where they played games, got to know each other, and made plans for when they could regather in person.
Special guests (both real and enacted by the staff) visited and took the campers on virtual tours with “Take a Camper to Work Day” and “Home Town Tours.” And it wouldn’t have been BRASS Camp without a villain, so staff and campers united to defeat The Glitch and his attempts to sabotage camp. We also stayed in touch via instant messaging with a special app made available only through BRASS Camp.
A huge Special Love thanks to the Gwen Laulhere Foundation for sponsoring Virtual BRASS, as well as to Jodi McKay, the camp director, and the more than 40 volunteers who played a part in the fun and helped elicit rave reviews like these:
“Thank you for ensuring these kids had an experience as close to camp as possible. I can’t imagine how much time and effort went into making it all happen, seemingly flawlessly.“
“We loved the activities and still have more to tackle. Thanks for leaving up the videos, the kids were asking for that!”
Plans are already in the works for a Virtual BRASS Weekend on October 23-24 – watch for details!