Our team moved into Summer 2020 with uncertainty. What would LDS’ first year of summer camps look like amid a global pandemic? Despite the additional challenges that COVID-19 brought, we (Camp Co-Directors Mel and Sarah) were determined to serve as many children as possible while keeping health and safety at the forefront of our decisions. 

With changing public health conditions and recommendations, we navigated what has become our new collective normal. We kept a positive attitude and approached potential problems with an opportunity mindset for ourselves and the summer camp team.

This opportunity mindset was tested as we moved to reduce the number of instructors and campers in our learning spaces. With safety in mind, LDS limited our capacity levels to a maximum of six students at camp each week, down from the twelve we had initially planned. Instead of letting this become a barrier, we extended the number of weeks we hosted camp to increase attendance. Our team then focused all our efforts into making each week memorable, exciting, and educational for each student.  

Sarah was the Co-Director and led all operations and communications. “Overall, it was a challenging summer for Mel and me,” Sarah explains. “It stretched our limits at times, but—at the end of each week—hearing parents’ and campers’ positive feedback kept us going to keep improving and refining our program to provide the best possible experience during this difficult time.”  

Each week we had a variety of children from different backgrounds and levels of need. With the limited number of campers, our team took this as an opportunity to take customization to the next level. Our RISE and Tell camp adapted reading and writing goals to meet the needs of every child. This camp explored various forms of storytelling, from autobiography to graphic novel to poetry. 

One benefit of having smaller groups of campers was that we were able to adapt the activities to meet the student at their level while still teaching them new skills and exposing them to new genres of writing. Mel and Sarah worked as a team to deliver the best possible experience weekly. With Mel being the lead Co-Director and the lead on learning support and program educational delivery, she helped to support camp leaders with the unique learning and behaviour needs of each student.  

Mel, Sarah, and the LDS team would like to thank our families for their support and trust, and for sending their children to summer camps with us! As well, we’d like to thank our funders who helped make summer camps attainable for all families, regardless of how their financial situations may have changed since March. We are excited to see our LDS community grow and to invite some friendly faces back to LDS for our Fall 1:1 Program. 

—Mel and Sarah   

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Melissa Henderson is our Learning Support Manager. Mel completed a B.A. in Speech Sciences at UBC and has a passion for linguistics and education. With prior experience in remedial instruction and administration within remedial therapy organizations, she has seen the difference that proper support and quality instruction can make in the lives of students with learning disabilities.  

Sarah Vopni, our Community Manager, brings a background in communications, project management, and global development. Her passion is supporting individuals and organizations to live authentically and in collaboration with others. Most recently, Sarah completed a post-graduate certificate in public relations with a strong focus on internal and external communications. 

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