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The Summer Camp That Wasn't

By Wendy Weiss, Programs and Membership Coordinator

Of all the things we look forward to each year at Westside, our summer camp, “Westside Wizarding World” is certainly one of the best. So it is with incredibly heavy hearts that we are having to cancel our much-loved, incredibly popular summer camp. It’s the one time of year we get to see our friends from all across Knoxville who spend the week dabbling in the dark arts and crafts that is the WUUC “Hogwarts” Academy.

We’ve talked about different options we might consider in trying to move camp into an online format, and when it comes right down to it, nothing replaces the in person experience. We really are going to miss everyone! It’s always so fun to see everyone again after the year since last camp, see how they’ve grown, watch old friends return and make new friends throughout the week. As exhausting and crazy at it can get sometimes, we truly adore the kids and their creative, spirited, often hilarious participation so much; it’s always worth it! So what does this mean for Westside and the future of summer camps? The simple answer is: we’re not really sure yet. This Sunday’s board meeting will give us a sense of some decisions that will have long term information for our planning and forecasting about how and when we can return to in person gatherings and events. For now, we’re putting on our wizard’s and witch’s caps and thinking creatively about how we might be able to bring everyone together in a virtual version of some form of Wizarding World. Our team of esteemed and magical Professors and Managers of Mischief (otherwise known as Westside volunteers) will be meeting (via Zoom) soon to conjure up something fun and fantastical. As I told the campers in the email I sent telling them the news, it’s up to each of them now to keep the magic alive until next summer camp. Isn’t that what we’re all doing now? Keeping the magic of connections and community alive in our hearts until we can be together again? While it might feel like a solitary, individual effort, truth is, we’re all counting on each other. Stay connected. Stay healthy. And remember the words of Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

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