HUECU is proud to partner with Philips Brooks House Association (PBHA) - as a Harvard College student-run organization, PBHA draws upon the creative initiative of students and community members to foster collaboration that empowers individuals and communities.
Written By Ali Barker, SUP Programming Group Officer ‘20 & Meherina Khan, PBHA President ‘20
Leading summer camp from home was obviously not what we had planned. When campus closed and all of our directors were sent home, we held onto hope that with proper public health precautions, an in-person summer could still be our reality. However, those hopes were quickly dashed as the reality of COVID-19 became increasingly severe. While we soon came to find out that our physical presence in community and direct interactions with our program constituents would be limited, our goal and commitment to be there for our families remained the same: to provide an unforgettable and enjoyable summer experience for our campers and staff while strengthening our young people’s academic, social and personal foundations.
With the creative and diligent efforts of our Summer Urban Program (SUP) staff along with the boundless support we have received from our families, community partners, and donors, we were able to create and launch an iteration of virtual summer programming never seen before at SUP. From virtual field trips and yoga sessions to trivia games and online celebrations, despite our physical distance from one another, we were able to center ourselves in SUP Love and dedicate our summer to sharing joy and our passion for learning from our homes.
Throughout our five weeks of online camp, we sought to be flexible in meeting the needs of our communities. With the support of our local staff, we were able to make over 500 supply deliveries to each camper’s home. Each child was provided with a technology device and learning kit so they would have all the necessary equipment and tools to engage in the SUP magic from home. We also worked with families in need of internet and food security assistance to provide hotspots and gift cards along with tech support hours and direction to local resources and food distribution sites.
One of our favorite moments from this summer was celebrating Midsummer & Spirit Week, featuring themed photo contests, artistic contributions from our campers, cute camp videos and freeze dance. We were so excited to have over 350 families join us for our live Zoom event to share joy and celebrate the "Season for SUP" with our wonderful community.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve our extended SUP Family through Virtual SUP 2020. As we continue to weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst so much uncertainty, we hold onto the moments we were able to stand beside each other and our communities (although remotely) through joy, grief, and most importantly, with love and solidarity, to create another unforgettable summer for the books.