What began as an idea to keep kids engaged and connected over the summer while also supporting parents has turned into a gift to support Baycrest’s SOS Campaign. Camp Companion founders Sammy Kerzner and Moriah Kalles have generously donated $8,500 to help Baycrest safeguard its patients and residents against COVID-19 while continuing to provide exceptional care.
“When camps were cancelled this summer due to the pandemic, Moriah and I really sympathized with the kids who were going to miss out on the summer camp experience,” says Sammy. “We grew up going to camp and being in the same cabin together. It really connected us and shaped who we are as people.”
In addition to kids having their summer plans cancelled, several of Sammy and Moriah’s friends who had been hired as camp counsellors found themselves without summer jobs as a result of the public health measures against COVID-19.
“We connected the dots and came up with Camp Companion,” says Moriah. “We could employ our friends as counsellors and offer kids an adjusted camp experience in person, while also giving parents a bit of free time.”
The Camp Companion founders gathered 30 friends as camp counsellors and began offering 1.5-hour in-person sessions for groups of up to five kids. Activities took place outdoors at the campers’ homes, allowing physical distancing to be maintained, and ranged from arts & crafts and drama to swimming, fitness and science, among others. “Kids had just spent so many months doing school online, and some virtual camp initiatives were emerging. Offering in-person sessions set us apart. Parents really liked the idea of having a safe, physically distanced way to keep kids engaged and connected offline,” says Moriah.
“We chose the name Camp Companion because our counsellors really were acting as companions,” says Sammy. “From personal experience, we both know how valuable it is to have a counsellor you can trust and be comfortable with, and to find connection with someone who may have totally different experiences from your own. We were so happy to be able to make this possible in a safe way through Camp Companion.”
At the end of summer, Sammy and Moriah knew they wanted to make even more of an impact with Camp Companion, so they donated all their net profit to Baycrest’s SOS Campaign. “Older adults have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and we both have personal connections to Baycrest as some of our family members have received care there,” says Moriah. “When we saw the SOS Campaign was matching donations, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to make the biggest impact we could.”
“Baycrest is deeply grateful to Sammy and Moriah for their generous gift, which will help us continue to safeguard our seniors as the pandemic evolves,” says Josh Cooper, President and CEO of the Baycrest Foundation.
We need your support too! Join Sammy and Moriah and make a real difference with a gift to the Baycrest Foundation’s SOS (Safeguarding our Seniors) campaign. We urgently need funds to safeguard everyone in the Baycrest community during these challenging times. Click here to learn more and donate today.