At first, we set out to create something to give me a purpose for getting up in the morning, because my career had came screeching to a halt - large events were no longer allowed in NYC, and that is a harsh blow to an event company. At first, Camp Yampire was going to be a small gathering of less than 10 to our apartment to have a fun weekend together before the inevitable "pause" order was given. But then it came, so we made the right decision to take Camp Yampire completely remote. I'll admit, I was bummed to see my in-person guest list fall by the wayside, but it was a tiny grain of rice in the sea of our world's troubles.
So we reached out to those we hadn't spoken with in a while, different circles of friends of varying closeness, to invite them to Camp Yampire, because why not? I didn't expect many to show on such short notice, but I underestimated how much a little escapism was needed as people were getting sick, losing their jobs, or struggling with mental health with no one to talk to. The turnout was varied depending on the time of day and the activity, but every single person that attended Camp Yampire remotely via Zoom and Google Hangouts said it was uplifting - just what they needed - and fun. FUN.
We often give up fun and whimsy in times like these. They are dismissed as trivial when you have to take care of your basic needs, like food and bill paying and not being infected with Covid-19. But the isolation that our (and soon probably every) country is undertaking is going to take a very serious toll on our mental health (and already has). If we don't remember to take a break from our worries every once in a while and encourage fun, we could create even more problems in the long run for our hearts and minds. 1 in 5 of us in the US no longer have the option to throw ourselves into our work and pretend the world isn't burning. Some of us have nothing to do but sit at home...and worry...and wait. Which is a privilege in itself, of course. Waiting indoors is a privilege right now, and please remember this! The incredible individuals who deliver our food, our mail, take care of our waste, stock warehouse and store shelves, keep our water and lights on and the public transit working - they deserve a world of thanks right now, as do many, many others. And the healthcare workers, literally exhausting themselves to death to save as many as they can, when a country like the US has limited supplies and they are fighting a losing battle...well, they are angels incarnate. Thank you.
We created Camp Yampire as a way to bring a smile to our faces, but after seeing how it affected those we love, we wanted to make it BIGGER so that we could actually DO something, and infuse joy back into our city, our nation and the world. I feel pretty helpless and lost right now, don't you? I am donating to charities, volunteering remotely when possible, and ordering from local restaurants to try to keep them going for another week. But its not enough. Joy is extremely powerful and a great motivator. When things get tough, the tough get moving, right? Joy and whimsy will see us though this and keep our spirits high. It is my sincere hope that Camp Yampire can fill the pit of my (and your) stomach where worry lives, replacing it, instead, with hope.
We are all in this together, friend.