A camper at Camp CaPella holds up a freshly caught fish. The camp for special needs children will be raising money for 2021 with an online auction from Dec. 4-13. Courtesy of Camp CaPella

By Josh Deakin

Camp CaPella is a camp for individuals with special needs and disabilities. It provides a safe location for recreational and educational activities for people to participate in and learn from. Camp CaPella is hosting an auction during the first few weeks of December to fundraise for their clientele. Participating in camp costs $1,500 per week per camper and fundraisers like this help ensure tho families are turned away for camp admission.

The auction to raise money for camp in 2021 runs from Dec. 4-13. The special online charity auction event will help support funding special needs children and adults attend summer camp next year for fun activities.

“I have been in special needs programming since 1993, starting at Pine Tree Camp and now four years at Camp CaPella. I love every day of it, making a difference in someone’s life is truly rewarding. We don’t really set a financial goal, we just know that people-supporters, volunteers, and donors will do the best they can and that will be good enough,” explained Executive Director Harvey Chesley. 

Due to COVID-19, Camp CaPella looked significantly different this year and fundraising hasn’t been as plentiful as a result as well. “We would normally have had several events this time of the year in a normal year and two of those would have involved auctions. Quite a few of our donors have said, yeah we have had a good year and we want to help others and so as a group we felt like an auction was an event that would work. Our camp schedule certainly wasn’t typical this past summer but we did feel like we did the best we could to make lemonade out of lemons,” said Chesley. 

Camp this year utilized zoom to keep campers engaged in various activities in lieu of attending actual camp. “We held seven weeks of three times a week Zoom and online programming that our campers tell us was a huge success. We also had six weeks of rentals with like minded, nonprofit agencies that were able to adhere to COVID regulations and I had the greatest job of all – giving over 50 boat rides!,” said Chesley.

The camp became creative with it’s activities planned to ensure they remained in compliance with CDC regulations surrounding COVID. “We partnered with AOEC to do two August weekends of water sports with children with disabilities. Each weekend about a dozen children with physical disabilities did things like canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and yes, water skiing too,” said Chesley.

COVID-19 has made life difficult for Camp CaPella, much like a lot of organizations across the world. “Like almost all nonprofits, COVID-19 has had a huge negative impact on special events and fundraisers. We lost our Touch A Truck, Newport Crusaders Dinner, Volunteer Banquet and Concert and Fairs Parking that would normally support our program.” explained Chesley. 

This auction is one of the few major events the camp has been able to hold throughout the last year. “With a little luck we were able to salvage a golf tournament that did well but the last event before that was our Polar Dip on Feb. 29! Nine full months without a single event, these events are often seen as income raising but they are so much more. It keeps our program on people’s minds, it fires up our board, staff and volunteers to be able to help out and so often it’s a great opportunity for our campers and families to support Camp CaPella,” said Chesley.

Families of participants of Camp Capella are eager to give back to the organization that has given so much for their families. “Over 95 percent of our campers and families receive some level of financial assistance in order to attend camp but families want to find some way to give back and attending and helping with special events is very important and something that gives them great satisfaction by helping out,” said Chesley.

Right now, the auction is accepting donations of products, services, or gift certificates to be part of the online auction and assist with raising money for future camp attendees. It is through these generous donations that Camp CaPella makes their tagline come to life: “Experience the Possibilities!” If you are interested in assisting with the auction by donating something, please contact Harvey Chesley at 207-314-0637.