Leadership Summit 2019

In January, PALS brought 50+ volunteer leaders together for its 2nd Annual Leadership Summit. The weekend started with our summer camp directors arriving a day early for a full 24 hours of learning and strategizing on ways to make Summer 2019 the best weeks of the year for our campers with Down syndrome and their peers.

On the 2nd night, our volunteer ambassadors and assistant directors arrived and spent the next day training on inclusion, personnel, logistics, fundraising, programming, conflict resolution, and sharing their best ideas with each other.

During our 3rd evening together, we were honored to be the first audience to screen The R-Word film, with an amazing Q&A with the director, Amanda Lukoff, immediately following. This movie provided a great message for our leaders on how words matter.

The last day of Leadership Summit 2019 was all about the future of PALS. We spent the final day planning, learning about our research project, and having candid conversations about diversity and inclusion in all forms.

We closed out the summit with our keynote speaker, Kayla McKeon, who shared her passion for advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. And we followed her speech with testimonials from our volunteers on why they commit to PALS each year.

"PALS has continually given me opportunity after opportunity to be a better me. This family has taught me everything about the type of person I wish to be and motivates me to advocate for inclusion and be an ally for all differences."

These volunteers spent three full days together because they want to create outstanding and transformative experiences for our campers and volunteers. After the summit was over, 85% of the attendees reported that the weekend left them feeling inspired. We are so grateful for their time, energy, passion, and love of PALS.

#PALSFriendshipFridays Series | Gabrielle and Shayla


Meet Gabrielle and her roommate, Shayla. PALS Richmond 2018 was the start of their budding friendship. Read Gabrielle’s answers to find out how they created an amazing friendship.

What is your favorite thing to do at PALS with your roommate?

Our favorite thing to do was create cool Snapchat pics. [Check out some of their Snapchat pictures below!]

What do you do to keep up with each other in between Camps?

We live far away, so we keep in touch through text and Snapchat.

What advice can you give to new roommates to create amazing friendships like yours?

My best advice is to try to not be homesick because the week goes by fast. 


Check out last week’s #PALSFriendshipFriday: Gretchen and Gia

Do you have an awesome friendship with your PALS roommate? Email your answers to sarah_henry@palsprograms.org to be featured in a future #PALSFriendshipFriday Series.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #PALS365 when you’re posting pictures with your PALS friends outside of camp so we can see your friendships year-round!