Dear CAA Community,

Today is June 23, the scheduled opening day of summer 2020 at 6 Points Creative Arts Academy. Today should have been full of highlighted lists, nervous first-time counselors, reunion hugs, and laughter filling Westtown hallways. The year-round team should be putting faces to the names and email addresses we’ve been corresponding with for months. We should be calling your doctor about the medical form that was still not turned in. The shuttle carrying campers who were on the last group of flights should be arriving from the airport any minute. There should be a “first time ever in the history of summer 2020 session 1” musical number on Facebook Live. Today should have been a magical day.

And I’m so sorry it is not.

I’m sorry that this virus has taken away so much from all of us: memories, celebrations, hugs, high-fives, security. I’m sorry that on top of the virus, many of us are also reeling with the current events of the world, doing our best to educate, be allies and determine how we are best prepared to help with the new knowledge we’ve gained. Although I do not carry fault over camp’s in-person closing, I am sorry.

The summer virtual programs that have been put together will, in no way, feel the same as a session of camp would have. It is not meant to. I’m proud of ‘the summer we never expected’ engagement opportunities, and I know it is, simply, not the summer any of us expected or hoped for.

To our first-time campers and their families – I hope that this summer will allow you to join our community on easy footing. In many ways, this is our first summer all over again; we’re going to figure much of CAVA out as we go. Fortunately, we know our staff better and we know who we are.

To our returning campers and their families – As much as camp is not dependent upon a location, I recognize the importance of being together at Westtown. Your dorm rooms will span the country this summer, your counselors look a lot like the guardian(s) you live with and your songsessions can be whatever playlist you are listening to on Spotify. I hope you continue to lean on one another, and you find comfort in your art. Please keep creating, connecting and celebrating the small, daily joys you are able to discover; they are there even when they might be hard to find.

To our staff – my heart hurts for you just as much. Like our campers, camp has become or will have undoubtedly become a safe space for you. The days would have been hard, the nights potentially harder, but I know you would have felt joy and peace with the world and with yourselves. I was so excited to work with all of you and so proud of the team we had put together.

CAA is not going anywhere and I, for one, am counting down the days until it is safe to hug you all again. Until then, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel like no one understands. It’s even okay to not be okay. My heart is broken in its own pieces, pieces that resemble but are not identical to yours. Your pain and loss is yours, and you are not alone.

Reach out to a friend. Let Jo-Ellen or I know if you’d like to talk to a specific staff member. Watch a funny camp video. Join us for CAVA programming. Be part of the community still. You are welcome here, wherever here may be.

Until those hugs can happen, you are all in my heART,