This year demonstrated that the heart of our mission – to provide opportunity – has never been more important. The campers, teens and families, whom we have the privilege to serve, are the future of this great city and, each and every day, we’re working toward a stronger, more equitable future for Boston.Jack Connors, Jr. Chairman
Our approach centers the voices of participants, both young people and their parents, in a transformational way. We develop our program direction and do our most purposeful work in partnership with families. I’m proud to say we continue to deepen our impact by listening to and investing in communities of color.Lisa Fortenberry Executive Director
As you will see in this comprehensive report, 2020 was a year of program adaptation and organizational innovation. Our focus remains local – on the kids and families in our community. We know that we alone cannot solve the vast and longstanding structural inequities in this country, but together we can make a measurable difference in the lives of those touched by Camp Harbor View.Sharon McNally President
This community came together in new and different ways this year to continue to support Boston youth and families. For a brief overview of our work, both prior to and through the pandemic, check out this video highlighting the spirit of Camp Harbor View.
2020 Monthly Review
A Summer Without Camp
Summer camp is at the heart of our mission to provide access and opportunities to young people. This year, in the face of a global pandemic, we reimagined what summer at Camp Harbor View would look like by listening to what the families in our community needed most. Instead of our traditional 8-week camp season on Long Island with over 1,000 young people, our initiatives adapted to meet the needs of the whole family:
Together we supported essential household needs and fostered fun from home. Expanded support services for families prioritized mental as well as physical health and invested in food access and financial stability to help make ends meet. Monthly kit deliveries and daily activities brought pieces of the camp experience into homes across the city of Boston – from family game nights to build-your-own pizza parties, kids stayed connected and engaged. Despite the unprecedented circumstances, this summer presented the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with families and to show up for our community in a new way.
About Summer Camp
Leadership Academy Moves Online
The Leadership Academy took to a new format this year – online. After starting the year strong in our South End space, our team quickly transitioned to remote programs in March for the health and safety of our community. Continuing to engage weekly with teens, the RISE and Leader in Training programs offered consistency and continuity for participants through a time of great uncertainty. Working in collaboration with our clinicians, the leadership development programs continued to incorporate social-emotional skill development into curriculum, building on a core focus of our commitment to holistic youth development.
About Leadership Academy
Centering and amplifying youth voices, the Digital Leadership program is a unique collaboration across grade levels in the Leadership Academy. With the opportunity to dive into digital media, marketing and advocacy, it’s a semester-based initiative that culminates in projects dreamed up and led by young people. This year the Digital Leadership group created a series called 123Speak. Teens organized, promoted – including design of the graphic above – and facilitated multiple dialogues on colorism and race in an effort to create an open, safe space for peers to share their experiences, emotions, and reactions.
For a look at their latest campaign, follow @BlackatBPS on Instagram.
Investing in Families
Guided by the principles of access and opportunity, Camp Harbor View’s Equity Initiatives partner with families as a whole to best support young people. Through targeted initiatives, we’re addressing the root causes of generational poverty, including racial inequities, and seeking to build a stronger future for Boston by investing in communities of color. In this time of crisis, when trusted information was challenging to source, our Youth & Family Support team’s work proved more vital than ever. As a wrap-around organization, our work supports the broader needs of families and the wellbeing of young people over the long term.
Emphasis on Mental Health
Facing uncertainty and isolation, young people and their wellbeing were challenged in new ways this year. Beyond offering individual therapy, our clinical team developed group sessions to continue to create comfortable environments for conversation and peer-to-peer engagement. Clinicians not only found creative ways to stay connected with teens and families in our programs, but also, seeing critical need, collaborated on a mental health guide that centered resources for Black families and communities of color.
About Clinical Support
About Clinical Support
Direct Financial Support
This summer we launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund, in partnership with the Family Independence Initiative, sending direct cash transfers to families in our community most significantly affected by the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic. As we further our investment in families, this area of our work continues to grow with additional relief dollars distributed in the fall and plans to expand the initiative more formally in 2021.
Food Assistance & Access
Expanding our food support initiatives to address rising food insecurity, we shared family-style meals along with fresh produce with families this summer and fall. Throughout the year, we distributed grocery gift cards in an effort to prioritize family choice and convenience. In addition, we continued with our holiday tradition – distributing turkeys and groceries at Thanksgiving.
From March, the Youth & Family Support team spearheaded COVID-19 resources coordination. Consistently sharing reliable information on available resources through an email newsletter and compiling a resource hub online, our team directed families to community resources for healthcare, housing assistance, food insecurity, and other basic needs. Additionally, throughout the year, we continued to engage parents and guardians in both fun and informative evening programs, from cooking nights to taxes and credit workshops.
In adapting the operations of our annual holiday assistance program to meet the pandemic reality, we were able to serve more families and more kids than ever before. Each participating family received household supplies including a set of pots and an air fryer oven; a seasonal tree; festive family fun like cookie decorating kits; and a $100 gift card for each child in the household to purchase something special.
More 2020 Moments
Camp Harbor Views
In November, our first-ever online event experience brought together the entire Camp Harbor View community. Hosted by Jenny Johnson, with a few surprise guests along the way, the evening program shared stories of joy and hope with the community that made it possible. Even though we couldn’t gather in-person this year, it was uplifting and energizing to celebrate with the over 700 people tuned in including families, participants, supporters, and partners.
Watch the whole show from start to finish or explore program highlights below.
Board of Directors
Jack Connors, Jr., Chairman
Connors Family Office
John Connors, III
Mass General Brigham
Northeast Retirement Systems
Melissa Weiner Janfaza
The Kelly Family Foundation
Boston Red Sox
Sharon McNally, President
Camp Harbor View
Joseph R. Nolan, Jr.
Income Research + Management
Girard R. Sargent
Beacon Capital Partners
Orlando C. Watkins
The Boston Foundation
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Meredith J. DeWitt Consulting
UBS Financial Services
Mass General Brigham
Newmark Knight Frank
New England Aquarium
Michaela McMahon Popeo
We could not be more grateful for the generous community of donors, supporters, and partners who demonstrated a strong belief in the mission and the work of Camp Harbor View this year. Who better to share the difference such support made possible than parents in our community.
You made my kids quarantine much brighter and helped me to spend time with them after work by providing those meals. It was a blessing — thank you.
It never fails to amaze me how Camp Harbor View mobilizes to support our kids. Rain or shine. Thank you for keeping my child, and many others, busy and engaged despite the conditions we are living under.
You’re a strong support system for the community and all you do is greatly appreciated. Thank you for helping keep a roof over our heads. Words cannot express my gratitude.