Updated: Apr 1, 2021
This March has been a hard one for me as a New Yorker and as a human on this earth - a lot of death and mourning make their way around the corner to an anniversary, and with that anniversary comes the reflection on lost loved ones and a return to intense, shared grief for those who lost coworkers, friends, and family members to Covid. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and it feels so surreal to type that I have not stepped foot outside of my apartment since I last stepped indoors on March 9th, 2020 - the isolation in our tiny NYC apartment has been challenging to say the least, but Pie and I still count ourselves lucky and privileged to be able to live and work entirely indoors while many others did not have the ability to do so. My eternal thanks goes to those essential workers who were out there kicking ass and keeping the city, and our world, moving towards better days. The past year has been devastating for many, painful for most, and tough for all, and my heart goes out to each and every one of you who may be reading this and reflecting on your own losses and pain. Please know that you are not alone. Yet, in the midst of all of the death, sickness, ignorance, bigotry, and racism that we have seen in 2020, we rise together in 2021, doing the best we can to make the most of it all with what we've got, and moving forward with cautious optimism that this year is gonna be better. Personally, I have seen more creativity in virtual spaces than I ever thought I could, and that has humbled my initial thoughts that virtual connection just "isn't the same" as in person connection. Do I miss hugging people? Absolutely - and for now, that aspect can't be harnessed via video chat. But really, it all comes down to mindset when you join an online event, class, or family get-together - if you go into something and think it's going to be just another boring zoom happy hour, you will log off, unsatisfied and feeling like your assumption was correct. You will never "get" the appeal of virtual events, because you don't wish to.
But to those who chose to dig in, get creative, and work hard to embrace not just an alternative to in-person connection, but an entirely new way of working, learning, and playing with others when they are not face to face? Well, that level of creativity and kindness is absolutely incredible to think about, and I can't thank you enough for going on this journey with us at Camp Yampire! For me, the online connections - and new friends - that I made on Zoom in 2020 changed my life.
Each and every camper who took the time to take a chance on Camp Yampire, in all it's wonderful weirdness, were a much-welcomed balm that kept me from succumbing to my own feelings of loneliness, isolation, and soul-crushing anxiety. When the world was a very dark place, we were bringing our collective lights online, and finding like-minded individuals who just wanted to put some good out into the world - and our lights became brighter as we grew and learned together. Our last blog post was written for Camp Yampire 4.0, which took place in May of 2020. Since then, we had a Memorial Day camp weekend, an arts-themed camp weekend, a virtual State Fair, and even a Halloween weekend celebration with Camp Yampire 10! We then took our online endeavor to Friendsgiving in November, and even celebrated the holidays together with the "12 Days of Holiday Joy" in December. It helped fill so many voids that would have been, since we weren't traveling, or even leaving the apartment, to see loved ones. Our holidays in 2020 were happy ones, with new friends, and precious old ones, joining us for online fun.