Hello. I wanted to give you an update on Coniston.
It was May 14th when I announced the cancellation of summer—it’s barely been four months. I remember using the phrase “we prioritized the health of our campers over the health of the organization itself.” But in the end, the community came together & prioritized Camp’s health. The support is remarkable.
So yes, Coniston is the recipient of a lot of love. There’s an old adage “to those whom much is given, much is expected.” That’s why with the help of a generous donor we pivoted. We opened up Camp on a daily basis for families. So many people who had never experienced Coniston were able to come to Camp for the day and safely see grandparents, friends, and just enjoy one of the many beautiful days we had this summer—with a smile. We hosted almost 3500 visits! Part of that was serving local day camps every Thursday! 37% of the participants came from Sullivan County where more than 1 in 10 families live below the poverty line.
Relaxation feels like a luxury right now. But access to the outdoors is good for mental health.
People are tense. These are trying times. By coming together we provided a mental respite for people. And that work is opening up other possibilities to work more deeply with populations that need access to world-class youth programs like Coniston.
Coniston is more complex than most people think. I always say, parents drop their eight-year-olds off thinking they will learn a little archery and make a new friend but have no idea that their child will often fill out their first competitive application, have their first job, identify their college, select their career. To make this happen we hire more than 200 employees over the course of a year. Our normal $4–4.5 million budget will be around half this year. But a combination of generosity & management leaves Camp right where it needs to be—vibrant, creative, & weighing options for the future.
I will have some exciting announcements about that future in my next video—I can’t believe the opportunities this work is creating for Camp.
In the meantime, I hope you will view a report of Coniston’s work this year. As our kids go back to school, I’ve never been more proud of how we spent our summer. You’ve given a gift to families, and in the words of a thank you note I received this summer from the Newport Recreation Department—I want to thank you for making our kids believe in the kindness of strangers.
We’ve made a difference.
You made a difference.