July 23rd 2021
There was no place to park my car as I pulled up to UrbanPromise last Wednesday. Finally I landed a spot next to the dumpster at the end of Rudderow Street (hoping trash pickup was Thursday and not later that day).
I have no issues surrendering a convenient parking spot for a worthy cause. Today’s forfeit was well worth the extra block hike—in 90 degree heat—to my air-conditioned office.
You see, the upper parking lot at UrbanPromise is often sequestered by our program staff for special events. Three-on-three basketball tournaments, community fairs, and our Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl. Today: our annual Summer Camp Carnival.
This is no ordinary carnival. Our staff and volunteers take “home-made” and “low budget” to a whole new level. Every year I’m amazed at the creative uses of recycled cardboard boxes, discarded plywood, poster paint and junk from the remote corners of the campus storage closet.
Summer Camp Carnival may not rival the technology and special effects of Six Flags or Disney World, but if laughter and smiles are happiness indicators, this event beats the best of the theme parks.
“It’s just good old-fashion fun,” claims Camp Peace Site Director Derrick Sondrini. “Kids love the simplicity of it all. It’s like turning the clocks back to a more innocent time. Sure it’s a little corny. But the kids feel the love.”
And that’s a big part of our mission at UrbanPromise. We want to get back to the basics of what’s important for children—fun, safety, human connection, belonging, laughter and being in the presence of adults who care. We want to show kids that, with a little imagination and hard work, you can transform an empty park lot and a pile of junk into a festival.
And this is what you—our partners—helped create for 200 children, 50 teens, 20 medical student volunteers from Rowan University and our summer team of counselors and staff. You created a joy-filled memory in a year marred with isolation, despair and disconnecting. For that I’ll give up my parking space….every day.
Founder & President
PS. Check out the short video to see the Carnival in action: https://vimeo.com/578241926