Family: Redefined - Campership 2015
Dear Friends & Family,
What a bittersweet moment I just had, watching three of our high school Shadow Company members walk across the stage and receive their diplomas! After all the speeches about their time in school, after listening to a successful alum talk about “seizing the moment” and after names were called and tassels were turned, Natalie and I got to be a part of the best moments. Hugs, a tear-filled smile, and so so many selfies. (You can see evidence on our Facebook page.) Natalie and I were at graduation because, after all these years together with our lives intertwined, we have become family.
I’ve been thinking about our family here at Yes! And... Collaborative Arts a lot recently. Perhaps one reason is because we just introduced ourselves to fifteen new staff members at our annual Institute training. Even though most of them were strangers to each other, by the end of their sixth day together they were parting like long-lost siblings. We are so excited to be able to work with such a close team this year, bringing more and more of them into this family. Perhaps another reason I’m thinking about our expanding family is because we are starting a new three week camp pilot program at Independence Charter School on the edges of Center City. What an adventure!
Trevor* is a wonderful kid with a wild imagination and bright eyes. Last summer, he got a message to our dance teacher that he wanted to have a solo moment in his group’s big dance number. It was surprising because we had never seen him put himself out in that way before. His dance was a huge success and the report we heard from his parents afterwards highlights our mission exactly: “Yes! And... is the place where my kid found himself and like-minded beings. He came home happy and engaged and wanting to do the theater games even after camp hours. Thank you!” We are a place for kids to explore who they are in a safe and supporting environment. Trevor’s friend Josh also had an unforgettable experience, “My son loves to perform, but never before got up in front of an audience. It is difficult to engage him, but you did it,” his mom wrote to us at the end of the summer session.
As family, we get to be a part of it all: graduations (of course), but also prom send offs, birthday parties, school plays, and more. This year we even got invited to a very special adoption party! Years ago, we gave tickets for one of our Winter Sort of Thing shows to a friend and her young neighbor, not knowing that six years later, young neighbor Claire would be in our middle school Theatre Camp, acting in her first Winter Sort of Thing performance herself AND celebrating her official adoption by that same ticket-taker! For us, it is all about expanding our family to make room for more.
Our littlest campers are often the ones who evidence the biggest impact of the training and care we give them, as captured in this quote from Sammy’s mom: “Sammy is unbelievably excited to be back at camp with all of you. I never got to check in with you this winter, but after her Thanksgiving and Winter Solstice shows at school, so many people commented to us that Sammy was very confident and had an amazing presence on the stage. Our immediate response was that she had attended Yes! And... Camp and that she gained so much from that experience. I tear up when I think of all the wonderful work you do to create this incredible, safe, welcoming, fun space for children all summer. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You should all be so proud of the job you are doing.”
Every family has expenses. In our family, we ask everyone to pitch in and help us out. With our policy to not turn away any kids for lack of tuition, we gave away over $45,000 last year in camperships and are on a pace to give away $52,000 this summer! Our new program at Independence Charter School right now has over 95% of the families receiving some sort of financial aid. We are bursting at our seams, beginning new programs, and still able to create a culture of equality and support where each child feels cared for. However, we can not do this alone. Some folks contribute by paying full tuition, others by volunteering their professional services, still others provide supplies we need or community outreach. BUT we still need YOU! We need the care, support, and generosity that brought you into our family unit again this summer.
Last year we asked you to help us raise $5,000, and you all came through! This year, with the new program at Independence Charter School, we need $8,000 in camperships in the next two weeks. This requires everyone who receives this letter to help in some way. Please help us make camp possible for Trevor and his buddy Josh, for Claire, for little Sammy, and for all of our high schoolers.
We rely on you as we head into the summer, knowing we can come to you because we are all part of this family together. Thank you. Thank you in advance for your generosity and thank you for being a part of this amazing, life changing thing we get to do everyday.
PS - If you would like to help us throw our seniors one heck of a good-bye party, you can give and “sign their graduation card” at http://weblink.donorperfect.com/shadowgrad
*Names of kids in this letter have been substituted to protect privacy
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So Many Thanks!
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