PALS Programs 2014

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Wow, what an incredible week we had at Cabrini College for Camp PALS Philadelphia. There were incredible trips to the beach, Dave & Busters and the Franklin Institute, not to mention endless dance parties and fun activities!

For more, check out the Facebook and Youtube and don’t forget to keep an eye out for Camp PALS Georgetown photos and videos this week!

Guest Photographers from Camp PALS Chicago

We’ve been having a great time this week at Camp PALS Chicago! The campers and counselors have taken in many sights, and made a lot of memories! Here are some of the memories captured as photos by PALS campers!

A Silly Selfie, by Isabelle W.

On a Scavenger Hunt, by Holly D.

The Big Bean, by Danny S.

The Best of Friends, Megan W.

Keeping Cool, by Blake W.

Keep up with all of our fun activities on Facebook and Youtube, where updates are posted throughout the day!

Guest Blogging From Soeren and Timbo- PALS Board Members and Spread the Word to End the Word Co-Founders

 "Timbo and I started Spread the Word to End the Word six years ago with what we thought was a crazy idea: that, somewhere, there were young people and self-advocates with ability and desire to lead a movement changing the way society views intellectual disability. We thought that, maybe, we could find enough young people and self-advocates willing to stand against the mistreatment of their classmates and friends with intellectual disabilities.

And then we came to PALS. And we realized that this wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. Through something as simple as being a counselor, being a camper, being a friend, all of us in the PALS community have already taken a stand against the stigma and prejudice that continues to follow those with intellectual disabilities. And we’ve taken a stand for acceptance, for friendship, for respect. Whether it happened at Camp Olympics, a PALS Spread the Word event, in a Camper Speech, or an authentic conversation over lunch, we’ve all taken a stand.

Today, we hope that you’ll take a stand with us to end one part of this stigma and prejudice: the word “retard(ed).” Take the pledge to end the R-word atwww.r-word.org and then asks your friends to do the same. Together, we can make a world where acceptance and dignity for people with intellectual disabilities isn’t such a crazy idea. Together, we can make the world a bit more like Our Place.


We hope you’ll take a minute to read the op-ed that Timbo and I wrote today for Spread the Word to End the Word. And, as a bonus, you can watch Timbo and I fidget in our interview with Huffington Post Live (also at the link).

Peace, Love, PALS,

Soeren and Timbo

Co-Founders, Spread the Word to End the Word
2010 Camp PALS Cabrini Olympics Champions (Go Sharks)“

PALS Adventures Takes On Wisconsin Dells

 Smiles, dancing, and speeding down the slopes of Wisconsin were just some of the highlights from the first-ever overnight PALS Adventure Feb 21st-23rd. Twenty two PALS alumni from near and far boarded a bus en route to Wisconsin Dells, WI to enjoy a weekend with some friends both old and new. 

 Everyone bundled up for the frigid Wisconsin air for a morning of snow tubing at Christmas Mountain Village. Shouts of joy were heard as both campers and counselors flew down the mountain on their snow tubes. 

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After making lunch at the lodge,the afternoon called for a 180 degree turn as participants headed to the Indoor Wilderness water parks. The afternoon was filled with daring rides like the Hurricane and body slides, relaxing in the the lazy river and hot tub, and braving the waves in the wave pool.

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After an eventful day, dinner was a team effort with everyone pitching in to make and enjoy an Italian feast. Then, in true PALS fashion, this exciting day was capped off with karaoke and a PALS dance party.

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Learn More about The Gala and How to Win a Ticket!

Haven’t bought your ticket to the 10 Year Anniversary Gala yet? Not quite sure what all the fuss is about? Here’s some more of the awesome details:

What is this event?

The Gala is a fancy dance party and celebration, celebrating 10 years of the all the amazing things that make PALS so unique. We’ll be honoring those that have been involved since the very beginning and sharing some of the best photos and videos from throughout the years. Plus a few speeches and a lot of fun music, dancing and a delicious dinner!

When and Where?

The Gala is March 8th 2014 from 6-10 pm at the Hall of Flags at Perelman Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania!

How do I get a ticket?

With the support of a generous donor and some awesome table purchases, we are able to provide tickets at a discounted rate for PALS families, volunteers and community members at $50 a ticket.

http://palsprograms.org/gala

What’s this about winning a ticket?

Between now and February 28th we’ll be accepting submissions of videos, pictures, and other media about why you love PALS! We will donate a pair of tickets to the Gala to the winning submission and every other submission will win an additional $3 discount on their tickets!Post your submission (video, vine, photo, art piece, or other media) to the PALS Facebook wall or submit to aj@palsprograms.org

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Dallas Team

Howdy, y’all! Meet the director team of the brand new Camp PALS Dallas. This exciting team of directors are excited to introduce Camp PALS to the South! With Kellen’s vision and determination, Brenna’s wisdom as a sibling, and Jill’s humor and passion, they hope to provide a week in Dallas that you’ll never forget. Dallas may be the baby of the camps, but this group of campers will represent the oldest age group, 18-25. With the special interests of this group in mind, this week in Dallas will focus on leadership development, self-advocacy, and life skills such as independent living and career building. But never fear! This group will also have plenty of time to soak up the Texas sun with trips to the water park, horseback riding, and more! We can’t wait to see you in Dallas. 

Learn more about this director team after the jump:

Kellen:
“Howdy! My name is Kellen Gandy and this is my fifth year at Camp PALS! I have been a counselor at the Philadelphia and Georgetown Camp PALS locations and can’t wait to lead this camp at its new location in Texas. I am currently living in Arlington, Texas and working on my Ph.D. in Health Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Arlington. Camp PALS is my favorite time of the year and I can’t wait for the exciting week we have planned at Camp PALS Dallas.”

Brenna:
“Hi y’all! My name is Brenna O’Sullivan. I am so excited for Camp PALS to finally come to the South! I have been part of the PALS family since 2009, and this is my first year as a program director. I could not be more honored to serve the PALS community in this capacity. While I’m not daydreaming about Camp PALS, I am working on finishing up my senior year at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and preparing for my Teach For America placement in the Fall. I hope to see you in Dallas for the best week of the year!”

Jill:
”Howdy, y’all! (Did I say that right?) I’m Jill Novak and I am uber excited for Camp PALS this year. This will be my fourth year at Camp PALS. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend Camp PALS Philly, Princeton, and San Francisco and now will be directing Camp PALS Dallas with some awesome people. I’m originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but am currently living in Nashville, Tennessee where I am getting my master’s degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt University. I enjoy long walks on the beach, strawberry ice cream, and the color forest green. I am so excited to extend our PALS family to the south and can’t wait to make new friends in the lone star state. “

Camp PALS Dallas takes place at the University of Texas at Arlington from May 25-31, 2014 for 20 campers ages 18-25.

 To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Georgetown Team

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Meet the dynamic new Camp PALS Georgetown Director Team. This team is comprised of PALS veteran Alex Meltzer, the warm-hearted Andrea Greenfield, and rising star Scott Gerson. They represent the synthesis of old and young, combining wisdom and know-how with a vibrant spirit. Georgetown has their camp in the heart of the nation’s capital and intend to take full advantage of the surrounding opportunities and Georgetown community. This program will specifically focus on the development of campers into confident, independent young men and women while they enjoy the best week of their lives. The countdown to Camp PALS Georgetown 2014 has officially begun!

Learn more about them after the jump:

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Alex:

“What’s up, PALS people? I’m Alex Meltzer, and this will be my 11th year at Camp PALS! In the past I’ve held many different positions, ranging from counselor to head counselor to director, the last of which I am very excited to be doing again this summer at Camp PALS Georgetown. I currently live in Baltimore, Maryland, where I am working on my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I look forward to working with two great freshman directors this year and meeting some new campers and counselors too!”

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Andrea:

“Bonjour to you all! My name is Andrea Greenfield, and I’m anxiously awaiting the start of my 4th summer at Camp PALS. I have worked as a counselor and CPS in the past, but this will be my first experience as a director! I recently began a job at the Morris County Mental Health Association, working in the Supportive Housing Department. I live with my family in New Jersey (Go Devils!), and I look forward to checking out DC during camp this summer.”

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Scott:

“Aloha! My name is Scott Gerson, and I am the youngest member of the PALS Director Team this year. I spent the last three summers as a counselor, visiting multiple programs this past summer (Philly, Chicago, and G-town). This will be my 4th summer with PALS, but my first as a director, and I can’t think of two people I’d rather have by my side for Camp PALS Georgetown 2014. I am currently a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, where I play baseball and coach Unified Bocce. Hurry up, summer!”

Camp PALS Georgetown occurs in Washington, D.C. June 29 - July 5, 2014 for 40 campers ages 16-25.

To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Princeton Team

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Meet the Princeton Director Team. Joining last year’s fearless leader, returning Princeton director Whitney Flora, is David Sabia, a counselor at various PALS events for the past four summers, and Steven Rosen, a new member of the PALS family and a Princeton alum. Located on the historic and beautiful Princeton campus, this program intends to replicate the quintessential college experience–trying new things with new friends, all while developing meaningful independence. The team looks forward to meeting their campers and counselors and beginning what will surely be one of the best weeks of the summer!
Learn more about them after the jump:
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Whitney:
“Hey PALS fam! My name is Whitney Flora and this will be my 6th summer with this amazing organization. In the past I was a counselor and head counselor at Camp PALS Philadelphia. I then got to experience the awesomeness of Camp PALS San Francisco and this last summer I had the pleasure of being a head counselor at Camp PALS Georgetown. It will be my 2nd year as director of Camp PALS Princeton and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for this incredible summer!  I am currently a senior at the University Of Arizona majoring in Family Studies and Human Development and plan to move to the east coast as soon as I graduate. I am so unbelievably excited to work with these guys and to plan a fun-filled camp at the beautiful Princeton campus! Watch out NJ!”

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David:
“Hey everybody! I’m David Sabia and this summer will mark five years since my brother Steve, a 7th-year camper, introduced me into the PALS family! In that time I’ve served as either a counselor or head counselor at PALS Philadelphia, PALS San Francisco, PALS Georgetown and PALS Princeton. This summer I’m excited to spend my first year as a director with my amazing co-directors at PALS Princeton. I currently live in Silver Spring, Maryland, where I work as a 5th grade paraeducator in the Montgomery County Public School system. I am also working towards my Masters in Elementary Education from University of Maryland, which I will complete this upcoming May. Can’t wait to meet all the counselors and campers for what will surely be one of the best weeks of the year!”


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Steven:
“Hi! My name is Steven Rosen and I’m a new addition to the PALS director team.  I graduated from Princeton University last year where I was a director of Princeton Disabilities Awareness (PDA), an organization that held an annual carnival for young children with Down Syndrome.  I currently live in Philadelphia but travel all over as a consultant for McKinsey and Company.  I couldn’t be happier to head back to Princeton for Camp PALS!”

Camp PALS Princeton occurs on the Princeton University campus July 27- August 2, 2014 for 25 campers ages 18-25.

 To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Chicago Team

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Meet the new Camp PALS Chicago Director team. Consisting of equal parts experienced and new, young and old, this quadrumvirate (Doug Kocur, Joanna Wagner, Conor Hawes, Kyle Stolarz) represents a wide range of talent and imagination that will directly drive and influence their unique set of programming held at Elmhurst College. They endeavor to create an inclusive and immersive camp experience with a twist of mid-west hospitality and a generous splash of fun. From a programming perspective, they intend to accommodate a wide variety of interests, with a distinct Chicago flavor, that will have both campers and counselors alike talking about the best week of their summer for years to come. 

Learn more about this director team after the jump:

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Doug:
What’s going on, PALS community! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Doug Kocur.  This will be my 5th summer at a PALS program! I had the privilege of attending multiple camps last summer, in addition to the inaugural year of PALS Chicago.  I am currently a 7th grade special education teacher in Bolingbrook, Illinois. I am STOKED to not only be returning to Chicago, but to be joining this Director team as well! I am excited to work with these three amazing Directors to bring everyone the best PALS experience possible during the BEST week of everyone’s year. I hope everyone is as excited and anxious for this summer as I am.  I can’t wait to see everyone! PALS Love!”

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Joanna:
“Hallo PALS Family.  My name is Joanna Wagner, and I am fortunate enough to be a Director for the second year in a row at Camp PALS Chicago.  By day, I am the Deputy Director of Operations for Best Buddies Illinois.  But by night, I’m working with Doug, Conor and Kyle to create the best possible camp for our wonderful campers and counselors.  Seeing the joy that our new friends brought to Chicago last year has inspired all of us to continue to spread that PALS magic throughout the year.  Whether we are sailing around Lake Michigan, eating pizza or playing board games, there is no group of people I would rather spend my time with.  We can’t wait to see you all again this summer for the best week of the summer!!”

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Conor:
”Hey! My name is Conor Hawes and this will be my second summer with Camp PALS. Last year, I had the privilege to serve as a counselor at both the PALS Georgetown and PALS Chicago camps. This year, I cannot wait to help lead and shape the program that has brought me so much joy! I recently moved to the Windy City to start my employment as a technology consultant, and am staffed in the beautiful city of Toronto, Ontario. I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to work with a team of such talented and passionate Directors. I hope to carry forward the momentum from the success of last year’s inaugural Chicago camp in order to establish a solid foundation for Camp PALS Chicago for years to come!”

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Kyle:
“Hello PALS friends! My name is Kyle Stolarz and although this is only my second summer acting as the Director of Camp PALS Chicago, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a week of my year! I’ve spent the last three years crunching numbers as an actuary with Ernst and Young, and recently relocated to New York City from Chicago. I am anxiously awaiting year two of Camp PALS Chicago, and couldn’t be more excited to continue working with Joanna and join her in welcoming two new Directors to the team: Conor Hawes and Doug Kocur!

Camp PALS Chicago takes place at Elmhurst College June 15-21, 2014 for 25 campers ages 14-21.

 To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the San Francisco Team

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Meet the Camp PALS San Francisco Director Team. Joint together by their common love of baby animals and, of course, PALS, they are ecstatic to be working together. This team plans on bringing a week full of PALS magic to all participants with a hint of California style. They advise participants to prepare themselves for a trip to Google, guacamole and Ghiradelli ice cream, and countless spontaneous dance parties under SCU’s beautiful palm trees. They are already counting down the days to all the fun in the California sun!

Learn more about this director team after the jump:

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Hannah:
“Hi friends! My name is Hannah Cunliffe and I am beyond excited to start my 6th summer here with the Camp PALS family. In previous years, I have worked as a counselor, a head counselor, a CPS, and this will be my very first summer as a member of the San Francisco director team! I am currently a senior at West Chester University studying elementary and special education. Words cannot describe how excited I am for this upcoming summer. And with that…let the Camp PALS 2014 countdown begin!”

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Sara:
“Hiya! I’m Sara Glass and I could not be more thrilled to begin my 5th year at PALS. I’ve had all sorts of roles here, now including the honor of being a director for the second year in a row. I am in my third year at the University of Toronto (Oh, Canada!) studying Health and Psychology. I am so excited to work alongside Hannah and James in making our third year on the best coast better than ever!”

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James:
”Hi, Camp PALS! My name is James Kuczmarski and this will be my 6th year with camp. As a former counselor, head counselor, and founder of Camp PALS San Francisco, it is so amazing working on the director team and seeing all of the magic come together! As a graduate from Princeton University and current Googler, I bring brawn and beauty to the Camp PALS San Francisco Director team. I am so lucky to be able to experience PALS in my home in the Bay area.”

Camp PALS San Francisco hits the west coast July 6 -12, 2014 for 25 campers ages 16-25.

 To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

Meet the Directors: Introducing the Philadelphia Team

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Meet the Camp PALS Philadelphia Director Team. Joining last year’s returning directors Jenn Grobe and Morgan Williams is PALS veteran Laura Karp. This energetic, exciting team of dedicated directors can’t wait to get back to the beautiful Cabrini College campus, where Camp PALS Philadelphia has been hosted for over 10 years! They can’t wait to offer PALS’ youngest campers a week full of fun, excitement, friendship, and dance parties at the largest Camp PALS of the 2014 season!

Learn more about this director team after the jump:

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Jenn:
“ Hi! My name is Jenn Grobe, and I’m anxiously awaiting my 7th summer at Camp PALS. This will be my third year as a Director and I’m already counting down the days until Camper Arrival! This fall, I began law school at George Washington University in Washington, DC, in the hopes of learning about and practicing disability law. I can’t wait to spend my summer making new friends, singing karaoke, and starting dance parties on the patio!”

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Morgan:
“My name is Morgan Williams, and I love Camp PALS. This is my second year as a Director at the Philly program, but I’ve been involved with PALS since 2010, when Philadelphia was the only program we had. By the time we leave the launchpad this summer, I will have graduated from Swarthmore College with a double major in Political Science and Psychology. I’m really excited to be a part of the 2014 Director team for three reasons. One, I’ll get to see Jenn Grobe and Laura Karp every day. Two, I can’t wait to make new friends. Three, CAMP PALS IS THE BEST WEEK OF THE YEAR!”

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Laura:
“ Hey there! My name is Laura Karp and I’m SO excited for my 8th summer at Camp PALS. I have been a Head Counselor and Head CPS in the past, but this will be my first summer as a director! I recently began graduate school for occupational therapy at Towson University. I want to be an OT to help young adults with their independence skills. I live in Baltimore, MD with two friends from PALS and we’re already counting down the days until Camp PALS Philadelphia at Cabrini College!”

Camp PALS Philadelphia will occur June 22-28, 2014 at Cabrini College for 60 campers ages 12-18.
 

 To help this amazing team of directors and the rest of PALS Programs make this summer the best one yet, please consider making a contribution of any size and Donate Here!

The PALS Programs Annual Fundraising Campaign is back!

Just in time for the holidays, this year’s PALS Programs Annual Fundraising Campaign has officially begun! 

This year we are aiming for a total of $100,000 in donations. PALS has officially expanded to six camps for the new year and every little bit raised makes a huge difference in our future.

We are confident that the PALS community has what it takes to make this campaign a huge success. Let’s make this the best year yet!

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You can donate online here or by mailing a check to “PALS” at 12 Dow Drive, Hillsborough, NJ 08844.

Curious as to where the money goes? View our annual report.