Announcements

Only 5 spots remaining for male counselors

Hey PALS people, we’ve almost finished recruiting the best counselors in the world for the best camp in the world! There are only five spots left for male counselors at Camp PALS East (unfortunately we’re no longer accepting female counselor applications), so we want to encourage anyone who hasn’t applied yet to do so as soon as possible. Similarly, if you know anyone you think would make a great counselor, get him to apply!

If you or someone you know is interested, email Paul Fleming at paul@camppals.org. As a reminder, Camp this year will run from June 15–23.

We can’t wait to hear from you!
- Paul

PALS 2012 announcements

Dear PALS Family,

Over the past nine years, Camp PALS has grown from a small program for 16 campers led by high school students, to a community of over 275 campers and counselors who return year after year to a place that we can call our own.

During the past few years, the Executive Board has been designing a vision for how Camp PALS will continue to grow and serve the Down syndrome community. Earlier this year we launched a pilot program, PALS Tours, inviting alumni to return and explore a new city while building life skills and allowing us to test the PALS model in different places around the country.

As we approach 2012, we are excited to share with you that the Executive Board is moving forward with the goal of running several programs held throughout the year in multiple locations around the country. We are building a strategic plan and we hope that by 2016 we may have as many as 8-10 programs held throughout the US.

With that in mind, we are excited to announce that we will hold four PALS programs this year: Camp PALS East, held in Pennsylvania; Camp PALS West, held in San Francisco; and two PALS Tours programs, both held in Washington, DC. Moving forward, we are looking towards re-branding as we become not just Camp PALS but a variety of PALS programs. We encourage you to visit PALSprograms.org, where you will be able to find details about each of these programs.


We are so excited to share these new developments with you and we hope you will join us as we continue to build the PALS community. Our annual fundraising campaign is still going on and will provide the support we need to continue to grow, so please take time to make a page or donate here.

Wishing you the best this holiday season,
Jenni, on behalf of the PALS Executive Board

Camp PALS fundraising campaign announced!

The Camp PALS Counselor Board today announced the 2011-2012 fundraising campaign with a new, higher-than-ever goal of $50,000. Last year, the Camp PALS community really came together to help us reach our goal of $45,000, and this year we’re hoping they can do it again.

All money raised in the campaign goes towards covering the cost of Camp PALS and PALS Tours. This includes providing scholarships to all campers who need it. The campaign will help ensure that our programs continue to grow and improve, but we also want to make sure that money is never an issue for any camper who wants to attend.

This is why we’re asking for your help to make this campaign as successful as possible. Here’s how you can help us achieve our $50,000 goal:

1) Set up your own personalized fundraising page here (it’s fun and only takes a minute).

2) Tell all your friends and family about Camp PALS—classmates and teachers, co-workers and bosses, coaches and teammates, aunts, uncles and next-door neighbors. Talk to them about what Camp PALS means to you and let them know that every single $1 donated will make a difference to someone you know. No donation is too small or too large!

Get involved today and show us your Camp PALS love. Together we can continue to make Camp PALS the best summer camp in the entire world!

- Alex

New Assistant Director!

A few weeks ago, we reached out to our counselor community in search of a new Assistant Director for the Camp PALS team in Pennsylvania. After a careful review process, we are excited to announce that Jenn Grobe will be joining Tyler, Paul and myself in leading Camp PALS 2012.

Jenn has been part of the Camp PALS family for over four years. She has served as both a counselor and head counselor, and we are confident that she will do a tremendous job in this new position as Assistant Director. Jenn is a special educator major at Ohio University and so brings great knowledge of this community to her role. With her energy and devotion to Camp PALS, Jenn has recruited more counselors to our community than almost any other individual. With her help, we will make sure that Camp PALS 2012 is the best week ever!

You can contact her at jenn@camppals.org. Please join us in congratulating her!

Thanks,

Jenni


Vote for Tina and Stef's Yoga Challenge Photo!

PALS Tours’ very own Tina and Stef are in a photo contest being put on by “Yoga Challenge!” They have the best picture – getting their yoga on at the National Mall. Vote for them by following the Facebook link below, then “Like” the wall post of the photo so they can win!


The Times They Are a-Changin'

Over the years we’ve often been asked “what’s next?” or “who will take over for you when you [go to medical school / move to California / start your PhD]?  And up until last summer, there were only ever 4 Directors of Camp PALS: Josh, Jenni, Abby, and Jason.  Last summer, we welcomed two Assistant Directors, Paul Fleming and Tyler Coulton.  They did an amazing job learning the ropes and suggesting improvements to the program and, as a result, we’re pleased to announce that they have been promoted to full-time Directors, effective immediately.

Given the addition of these two Directors and our confidence in their ability to lead, Josh, Abby, and I will be stepping down from our Camp Director positions.  Jenni will lead Camp PALS next summer as “Head Director” alongside Paul and Tyler.

Meanwhile, Josh, Abby, and I still plan to attend camp for the foreseeable future (read: as long as Jenni, Paul, and Tyler let us! :)) and will be taking on new side responsibilities, i.e. further developing our medical school program, fostering leadership development, and upgrading our technology.  We will also be involved in PALS growth at a higher level, i.e. supporting counselors in their efforts to create Camp PALS and PALS Tours programs around the world.

I know I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that being a Director at Camp PALS is easily the coolest job in the world.  You get to literally sit down and say, “How do we design the funnest week possible?” and then work with hundreds of amazing people to do it.  I am constantly blown away by the awesomeness that is the Camp PALS community and am so glad to have been such a close part of it for the last 8+ years.  Josh, Abby and I are extremely optimistic and excited for its continued development and growth under Jenni’s leadership.

- Jason, Josh, and Abby

Support Funding for People with Down Syndrome

Dear Camp PALS Family,

As some of you may know, Down Syndrome is the least funded genetic condition by the NIH yet it is the most frequent chromosomal disorder. Currently, the NIH has issued a “Request for Information” regarding a Down Syndrome registry, research database and biobank. They are expecting responses from the Down Syndrome community and anyone who is interested in supporting people with Down Syndrome. If they have a large and clear response, the NIH will be more likely to help fund this type of research. The deadline to respond is Friday, April 1.

Camp PALS is supporting the Global Down Syndrome Foundation in getting as many responses as possible to the NIH. Will you help us? You can cut and paste the text below and…
  • Send it as an email to: dsrdrfi@mail.nih.gov
  • Send a copy to: nihresponse@globaldownsyndrome.org
  • Subject line: “Response to NIH Down Syndrome Research Database & Biobank RFI”
Feel free to use the email below in its entirety or edit it as you see fit.

Thank you for joining us and the Down Syndrome community at large in this effort!

Jenni

—-

To Whom It May Concern:

It is morally, economically and scientifically important that the National Institutes of Health increase funding for people with Down syndrome.

We are pleased the the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation have taken the lead with the NIH in this regard. We support and agree with their assessment of what the parameters should be for our future centralized Down syndrome patient registry, database and bio bank.

Please continue to work towards this end. We appreciate NIH’s renewed interest in Down syndrome research and we appreciate NIH addressing the historical and alarming disparity of funding for research that would improve the lives of people with Down syndrome.

Sincerely,
(your name)

Remember to send by April 1st!


Camper Application is Now Available!


Happy New Year from Camp PALS!

The 2011 Camper Application is now available online on the Campers page at camppals.org. As you know, camp this year will be held from June 12-18, 2011. We have also put up our Reduced Fee Application and Funding Sources document for those interested in financial aid.
If you have any questions, please contact jenni@camppals.org.

Here’s hoping 2011 is the best year yet!

Jenni

Holiday Fundraising Update

Happy Holidays Camp PALS!

We hope you are having a great holiday season and some restful time off of work and/or school. We are now a month into our fundraising campaign and we are doing very well! We have 8 new fundraisers, bringing our total number of fundraising pages up to 60.

We have raised almost $13,000 more since our last update for a total of over $23,000!

We still have more work to do. If you don’t have a page up yet, make one now. If you do have one, please continue to advertise it. Also remember that we do accept offline donations as well!

Thanks so much for all of your hard work!

Robert, on behalf of the Camp PALS Board

Camp PALS website gets a facelift

Over the years, the Camp PALS website has developed from a single, text-heavy page to an interactive, photo rich website. Today, we’re excited to unveil the next evolution of the Camp PALS site:


You’ll still see the familiar Campers, Counselors, and About Us pages– but you’ll also see updated photos, faster loading times, and slightly more polish around the edges. I hope you enjoy this change and encourage you to tell us what you think.

Jason

Fundraising Campaign & New Alumni Program

I am excited to announce the start of our 2010 Camp PALS Online Fundraising Campaign. Last year was a great success and we hope this year will be even better!

Our own Jason Toff has a created a new, simpler system to collect our donations. You can set up your own fundraising page by clicking here: camppals.org/donate/add

The biggest news is what we are raising money for. As you know, Camp PALS has grown every single summer. This year, not only are we opening our doors to more campers than ever before, but we are starting a BRAND NEW PROGRAM for older campers that will focus on life skills. A special thanks is due to Brian Atlas and Jenna Aidikoff who took the lead in turning our dream of providing a program for our alumi into a reality. You can learn more about this initiative, PALS Tours, at www.palstours.org.

As you can see, there is a lot to be excited about this year, and we would love for you to join us in this campaign! Like last year, any money that campers and their families raise can be used towards their Camp PALS tuition for this summer. With your help, we can continue to grow Camp PALS to give more people the opportunity to join our Camp PALS family and to experience the best camp in the world!

- Jenni, on behalf of the Camp PALS Board and Directors

2011 Board and Directors Meeting

This past weekend the Camp PALS Board and Directors met in New York City for over 14 hours of meetings. We discussed the logistics of Camp PALS 2011 but most importantly shared our visions for what Camp PALS could be in the future. As you can see from our post-it notes below, we are going to be quite busy!

In the following weeks we will be posting about some exciting new plans, including our 2nd annual fundraising campaign, the details on our expansion into two camps to accommodate our biggest growth ever, the addition of two new Assistant Directors to our team, and the development of a new pilot program for Camp PALS alumni.


In addition, each member of the Board and Directors team has taken on specific tasks to accomplish in the next year. Some examples include:

  • identifying new and larger grant opportunities
  • designing professional brochures
  • renting golf carts to use for support staff on campus
  • building a year-long online Camp PALS store
  • pursuing public speaking training for our campers and counselors
  • enhancing the annual water balloon fight (& possibly setting a world record?)
  • upgrading our formal dance at the end of the week
  • …and more!

We know that we are not the only ones with big dreams for Camp PALS. As a member of our Camp PALS family, we are always excited to hear your new ideas and suggestions. Feel free to contact us individually or at directors@camppals.org.

Thank you for your continued support,
Jenni, on behalf of Camp PALS Board and Directors

Vote for Camp PALS

I’m excited to let you know that Camp PALS is in the running for a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh grant.

In order to win, we need the most votes. Voting began at 6 AM today and lasts until July 31. In order to get the most votes, we need YOU.

So please take 2 minutes to vote now: http://refresheverything.com/camppals

You can vote for the Camp PALS project once every day - and we encourage you to do so. Anyone can vote, so feel free to share the link with anyone/everyone you know.

Together, I think we can actually win this.

Jason

Less Than Two Weeks Left!

Camp PALS is just a few weeks away and the directors have been working on what we hope will be our best summer yet! Here is a sneak preview of some of our on-campus events…

  • Choice Activities: Our choice activities will be better than ever. This year we have added both basketball and weight lifting! We are improving our painting sessions by having all campers and counselors work on a large mural that we will display during closing ceremonies. We will also be having a new focus on healthy options in our cooking program.
  • Camp PALS Olympics: Perhaps our most anticipated event each year, the 2010 Camp PALS Olympics will be a sight to see! With our now-annual parade of athletes, the singing of the national anthem, and our new and old relay events, it will be quite a work-out for everyone involved! As is our tradition, we’ll end with the Camp PALS water balloon fight!
  • Evening Shows: After dinner each night, we’ll be having an evening show for the full camp. Some talent acts are still being selected, but you can expect a magician, MusicWorks, karaoke, and perhaps some talented acts from your very own counselors!

As you can see, the on-campus programming of Camp PALS is bigger and better than ever, and this is just the beginning. Don’t forget about swimming, the End of the Week Formal Dance, and a scavenger hunt!

See you soon!
- Jenni

Camp PALS Campers & Counselors spread awareness about the Use of the R-word

Yesterday was the second annual international “Spread the Word to End the Word” day, a Special Olympics and Best Buddies campaign working to raise awareness about the effects of the R-word. Camp PALS counselor Soeren Palumbo is the co-founder of this event. His passion for the cause was first voiced at a speech he made in his high school a couple of years ago.

In their own ways, many campers and counselors fought against the R-word yesterday. Many changed their Facebook photo to the campaign’s official image. Others wrote messages to their friends encouraging them to think twice before using the R-word. Greg and Lauren Coni, the dynamic brother-sister, counselor-camper duo from Schnecksville, PA, organized a day-long event in their community. Their work was featured on the front page of their local newspaper. You can find the article here. You can also read about a segment on their work filmed by the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia here.

Did you do something in your community to help “end the word”? Let us know, and we will put your story on the Camp PALS blog!

-Josh, Jason, Jenni, & Abby

Counselor Application Information

The first round of counselor applications will be closing on Sunday, January 17th. (You may still apply after this date, but you will be in the second round.) After a phone interview, we will let you know our decisions by mid-February. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at abby@camppals.org. Apply now!

Camper applications will be available starting January 1.

Best,
Abby Kolker


Camp PALS Expansion UPDATE

Dear Camp PALS Family,

I am excited to tell you that after months of work the directors have finally put together the Camp PALS Start-Up Kit. This Kit provides an inside view of what makes Camp PALS a success, including details on facilities, technology, trips, t-shirts, and of course, campers and counselors.

You can find the Kit online at http://kit.camppals.org. Please feel free to email directors@camppals.org if you have any questions or suggestions; we will continue to make edits and revisions to the Kit as we see fit.



With your help and support, I know the Camp PALS model can grow to serve more and more people throughout the world.

All my best,

Jenni, on behalf of the Camp PALS Directors

P.S. I am still collecting information on financial aid sources for Camp PALS tuition. If you have not done so already, please take the time to fill out this short survey here. I will be reporting back on this information by the end of the year.

Update on Princeton Reunion and Down Syndrome Conference

The Camp PALS reunion in Princeton had a great turn-out with over 30 people in attendance. We enjoyed Panera food, heard some good speeches and laughed with old friends. Below are a few of the pictures from the event.

A big topic of the reunion was the upcoming 3rd Annual Down Syndrome Conference at Princeton University. This year, the conference is titled “Up” and is again, hosting some fantastic speakers for parents while pairing all children with Down Syndrome and their siblings one-to-one with a Princeton student volunteer. The conference is scheduled for Sunday, November 15. You can register online at www.princeton.edu/~pda.

Hope to see you there!

Jenni