Announcement: Camp Celiac will be back for 2022 in person at Camp Arroyo in Livermore, California! We are excited to announce that we intend to hold camp in person in July 2022 for campers ages 9 to 15. Dates and details, including our Covid-19 policy, are at celiaccamp.org. That’s also where registration will open on February 1, 2022. To receive a reminder to register, join our list at celiaccommunity.org (subscribe button is in the right column of this page). As always, registration is $25 (it can be waived by request for hardship) and camp is free to attend!
For the second year in a row, Camp Celiac was a virtual experience, a successful mix of camp traditions, online games, activities adapted to the virtual medium, plus some fun and delicious new surprises.
In 2020, virtual camp was one intense week in July (read about it here). This past summer, in contrast, it was five two-hour sessions on Saturday evenings, once a month from March through July. The new schedule allowed leadership, volunteer counselors and campers alike the time to tend to their work, school and other activities while still enjoying camp. Crucially, it allowed Camp Director Molly Stone, Assistant Director Lindsay Swanson and their team of volunteer counselors a one-month breathing space between sessions to plan activities and then thoroughly enjoy the time with campers. It also gave campers more time to connect and develop friendships.
Many children have been drawn to Virtual Camp Celiac over the past two summers and participated with wholehearted excitement. Other former (and future) campers chose to skip it and wait for in-person camp to resume. The kids who did attend particularly liked the connection to their peers. “They were roaring in the chats,” said Lindsay. She had been uncertain how well it would work for campers to use the chat function on Zoom during the first virtual camp last year, but found the chats are an important way for kids to connect over comments, shared interests and laughter.
Our camp leadership and foundation board benefited from last year’s experience. By necessity, camp leaders have become pros at running a virtual camp, which Lindsay noted requires a different skill set than running camp in person. She reflected, “You have to be really quick on your feet to keep things positive, on track and engaged.” Once again, board member and beloved Camp Celiac counselor Danyel Areff managed the registration process and other technical aspects, such as the digital Thank You Jar where participants leave notes of appreciation for each other.
A generous grant from the Moca Foundation, a longstanding supporter of Camp Celiac, allowed us to order goody boxes to be mailed to all participants, not just once but twice. The businesses filling the boxes generously provided their baked goods at wholesale cost. Campers and counselors were delighted to receive the packages.
The first goody box contained a trio of gluten-free sourdough products – classic sourdough bread, dinner rolls and sandwich rolls – from Bread SRSLY, a longtime favorite of campers and their families. Owner Sadie Scheffer also made a video for the campers with instructions on how to make a special chocolatey dessert using sourdough bread. Sadie said, “At Bread SRSLY we love supporting Camp Celiac each year. We aim to delight, and it’s so encouraging to have a chance to share our products with the campers, many of whom have never tasted sourdough before!”
Flour Craft Bakery in Marin County created a set of goody boxes with a delicious assortment of muffins, scones and coffee cake. Owner Heather Hardcastle created a video tour of the bakery for campers and added, “Flour Craft was delighted to provide treats for Camp Celiac campers. Knowing that celiac kiddos could safely enjoy something special to celebrate their return to virtual camp was a highlight of our summer. We hope we brightened everyone’s day in a small way.”
For the April session, local teen chefs Caroline Pecore and Paloma Raffle of GF Around the World Cooking Camp led an online cooking class to guide campers in making cornmeal crust pizza and mini key lime pies. Campers also enjoyed camp songs, a dance (pajama-themed), a talent show, game nights, scavenger hunt, and hang-outs in the virtual cabins. Between sessions they tried out instructional craft, cooking and other videos that counselors pre-recorded for them. Some of the campers have never had the opportunity to attend in person, but thanks to the traditions woven into virtual camp, in-person camp in 2022 will have some warm, familiar faces and activities.
Camp director Molly said, ”I’m really excited to see everyone in person next year and especially can’t wait to see the new campers who have only been to virtual camp.”
View more Virtual Camp Celiac 2021 photos and videos on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CeliacCampTTFF.
Register for Camp Celiac 2022 starting February 1, 2022, at celiaccamp.org.
Images: Top of page: Zoom screenshot of Camp Director Molly Stone during Camp Celiac game night. Below, clockwise from top: Zoom screenshot of camp participants during the baking class; Director Molly Stone and Assistant Director Lindsay Swanson as her Steve Harvey persona; Flour Craft goody boxes getting packed; Lindsay with Bread SRSLY sourdough loaves and rolls from a camp goody box; key lime pies made by a camp participant; camp participant and the pizza she made during the class. Center: Muffins, scones and cinnamon bread from the Flour Craft goody box.