by Paul Mulvena
In 2008, HAC Summer Camp hosted for the first time what has become a family-favorite annual event here at HAC: the Camp Family Social. Our social has an 11-year rich history of providing camp families with a spectacular evening of fun as well as generating substantial revenue to benefit children and adults with intellectual disabilities. In addition to “dollar dunk” and a water rapids slide, the social includes a silent auction, which is strongly supported by individuals, businesses, and organizations in the community. Read on to learn about the history of the event, how our campers partake in the fundraising, and more.
How did camp social get its start? Was it always an Olympics-themed fundraiser?
The first HAC Camp Family Social began in the summer of 2008 (the second summer of HAC camp). We paired the HAC Olympics with the Summer Olympics in 2008. The HAC Olympics is one of our highest attended and most popular weeks during the summer. We felt the Family Social would fit nicely with a full day of events (water games, cardboard boat races, waterslide, obstacles course, and a dunk tank) where we could raise money to support Special Olympics of Delaware and dFRC. The day extends through the evening inviting campers and their families back for a mini-carnival to enjoy games and food from 5:30 – 8:00 pm.
How did we choose Special Olympics and DFRC as the charities?
Eunice Kennedy Shriver is the founder of the Special Olympics. She believed that if people with intellectual disabilities were given the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else, they could accomplish far more than anyone ever thought possible. She was right. She began a summer camp day program for individuals with intellectual disabilities in her backyard to explore a variety of sports, games and physical activity. As a summer day camp program involved in sports, exploration, and fitness, we feel that it is important to help and support others so they can experience the same opportunities and have fun, too.
There is also a history between Delaware Foundation for Reaching Citizens with disABILITIES (dFRC) and the Carpenter family: https://www.dfrc.org/about/history.html
How are teams divided in HAC Olympics? Are games scored or is everything just for fun?
We have a number of field day games that occur during the week in our camp groups. The games and scoring are adjusted depending on the ages of the campers. Some HAC Olympic activities are just for fun where we create a cooperative environment, while other games and activities are designed for some friendly competition.
What activities leading up to the Camp Social do HAC Summer Camp kids do to prepare for the charity? For the Olympics?
Throughout the entire summer, the campers run a camp store called “HAC Shack.” HAC PAC II and III campers are eligible to purchase items from the HAC Shack located in the camp programs office. Items available to purchase include snacks, drinks, and toys along with soft pretzels and water ice. Camp bags are for sale at the HAC Shack for $15-$20. As a privilege for the older campers, they are allowed to help run the store and assist their fellow campers with purchases. All proceeds from the HAC Shack benefits Special Olympics of Delaware and Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disABILITIES. Additionally, during daily morning announcements, we do share with the children the important aspects of who we are helping and why we are helping them. The donation to Special Olympics and dFRC comes from numerous sources at HAC, including sales from the HAC Shack commissary stand and ticket sales from the annual camp social. HAC also raises funds through donations to a raffle and silent auction, which included numerous items from across the state.
Do affiliates of the Special Olympics of Delaware program or DFRC interact with our campers at all?
Ann Grunert, Executive Director with Special Olympics of Delaware, and Tony Glenn, Executive Director with DFRC (Delaware Foundation for Reaching Citizens with disABILITIES) visit each summer. The campers have an opportunity to directly present a donation check, and Ann and Tony have an opportunity to share with the campers how their donation will help their organizations. We have been fortunate to have a few athletes from Special Olympians of Delaware join and participate in our water events most years.
What message do you hope to impart on the campers with a summer-long fundraising event?
Helping others connects us and creates a stronger community. One of the best ways to encourage kindness is by reminding children of their past kindnesses.