To Our UKANDU Community,
I am reaching out to share updates on our UKANDU programming. As you know, we made the decision to shift all traditional, in-person programming in 2020 to the virtual environment. Our mission is to bring joy, hope and connection to communities battling childhood and adolescent cancer. Our commitment to this mission remains steadfast. Though we were saddened by not connecting in person this year, we were heartened to find new ways to bring our community together. UKANDU virtual programs resulted in more than 750 engagements in 2020 and reached new families around the country! The staff and volunteers are planning even more opportunities for our families to connect in 2021.
Recent news about COVID vaccines brings us hope, but there is a lot we still do not know. We will look to national public health experts and our UKANDU Medical Director to help us understand when it will be safe to bring back in-person programming. As more information becomes available, we will provide additional updates. And even after we are able to gather in person again, we will continue to offer opportunities to connect virtually.
Silver linings are sometimes hard to see and too often still leave us unfulfilled. But it is times like these where we can really show our “You Can Do!” spirit and that’s what we’re going to do… that’s what we’ve always done at UKANDU.
One more time, to our community, thank you for your support. Some of you are donors and some of you are corporate sponsors. Some of you are parents who share their children with us and some of you will have attended camp over the last three decades. Some of you are the more than 100 volunteers who take a week away from work, from vacation, and from family. UKANDU would not exist without all of you doing what you do. What we do together is special. What we do is everything we can to ensure each of our campers enjoys the “gift of childhood”.
As we continue to navigate unprecedented and confusing times, please remember your own “You Can Do” spirit. Be good to yourselves, be good to others, and stay safe.
Jason Hickox – Executive Director
Born out of hardship and necessity, our newest program, UKANDU Virtual Camp, was initially offered as a substitute for Camp UKANDU in the summer of 2020. As that wild experiment proved to be a smashing success, we realized this is an offering we can make every year. Unfortunately, there are children of all ages who are too sick to make it to one of our programs in any given year. And as we learned in 2020, there are families across the country who would love to experience the ‘hope and joy’ that UKANDU provides. So we are committed to offering virtual programming on an ongoing basis for our community....
Starting in the 90s, The Teen Retreat was originally offered as a program within a program during Camp UKANDU, and was offered as a way to recognize the unique needs of adolescents impacted by cancer. Our teen campers have acted as role models to our younger campers from the beginning, and the Teen Retreat became a way for us to share our appreciation for their contribution to Camp UKANDU....
The ‘flagship’ offering from UKANDU, “Camp UKANDU” has been providing a week of ‘outrageous fun’ to children ages 8-18 since 1986.
When a family learns that one of their children is diagnosed with cancer, the last thing most of them want to do is send that child away from the family for a week. Time becomes more precious than it has ever been known. Parents are understandably covetous of the time and a future that is too often cut short....
UKANDU Family Camp was another logical program extension of the ‘hope and joy’ that Camp UKANDU has delivered for more than three decades. Our Executive Director and Program Director grew tired of the heartbreaking requests from parents asking if their six year old could ‘please just come to camp.’ Knowing that too many children will die before making it to Camp UKANDU meant that we needed to do more. Over years of interacting with the parents of our campers, we realized parents are just big kids too!
UKANDU Corps was inspired by our Executive Director's previous experience in volunteering at Camp UKANDU. It is in our DNA – heck, it’s in our name! – to remind people that “You Can Do!” a lot in life, no matter your challenges. While Camp UKANDU and other UKANDU programs facilitate this growth and learning in critical ways, UKANDU Corps aims to draw on the powerful experience and self-confidence that comes by serving others. When we see our efforts have a positive impact on someone else’s life and on the world around us, pride and self-worth flourish.
Started in 2018, the UKANDU Family Reunion is for anyone who has attended, or whose family members attended any of the UKANDU programming over our 36 years. Like any family reunion, and with hundreds of campers and volunteers each year, this affair can be a raucous affair. But like all UKANDU fun, this fun is responsible and deserving of our proud UKANDU name.