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KELLY LEE | CO-FOUNDER

In her interview with KC Cares, Kelly Lee, co-founder of Camp Encourage, unveils the camp’s commitment to providing enriching experiences for individuals on the autism spectrum. Established in 2008, the camp offers a range of activities, from horseback riding to STEM projects, tailored to meet the individual needs of each camper. Camp Encourage places a strong emphasis on community involvement and inclusivity, with a significant volunteer base that includes neurodiverse individuals. Kelly discusses the camp’s mindful approach to growth, ensuring that services remain accessible and equitable. The camp’s vision extends to fostering a diverse community, reflecting the camp’s core values of empowerment, inclusivity, and support.

visit them here: Camp for Autistic Youth – Camp Encourage

 

What Nonprofit Questions are Answered?

  1. What makes Camp Encourage unique for individuals on the autism spectrum?
  2. How does Camp Encourage ensure inclusivity and diversity among its campers and volunteers?
  3. What range of activities does Camp Encourage offer, and how are they tailored to individual needs?
  4. How does Camp Encourage engage the community and foster volunteer involvement?
  5. What are Camp Encourage’s future goals for growth and expansion?

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KC Cares, Kansas City’s nonprofit voice, tells the stories of Kansas City nonprofits and connects them with the community.  

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Transcript:

00:00:08:29 – 00:00:31:28
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Welcome to KC Cares, Kansas City’s nonprofit voice. We’re telling the stories of Kansas City nonprofits and the people behind them. KC Cares is the intersection of the nonprofit and profit communities making Kansas City a better place to live, work and play? This KC Cares segment is brought to you by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation www.kauffman.org.

00:00:31:33 – 00:00:57:45
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
I’m Ruth Baum Bigus. We’re parents of youth who are on the autism spectrum. Finding meaningful summer activities can be challenging, but no challenge was too high for the founders of Camp Encourage. Cathy Otten and Kelly Lee, who both have degrees in special education. With its mission to provide youth on the autism spectrum meaningful experiences in which they build knowledge, courage and skills.

00:00:57:50 – 00:01:21:37
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Camp and Courage has been offering overnight camp experiences since 2007 as demand increased to attend the camp. I believe embrace the hurdles of a growing organization. Well, today, co-founder Kelly Lee joins us today to talk about this remarkable organization, as well as what they are doing to keep the momentum growing Kelly. Thank you so much for being with us.

00:01:21:39 – 00:01:23:42
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
We’re so happy to have you.

00:01:23:47 – 00:01:27:02
KELLY LEE
Thank you so much for the opportunity.

00:01:27:07 – 00:01:39:36
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
So let’s start off. Tell us a little bit about your story and how camp encouraged, you know, started came to be the concept, everything. Sure.

00:01:39:41 – 00:02:02:46
KELLY LEE
So Kay Orton and I met I was in grad school, she was in Doc School. And at the time there was a nonprofit that was providing services to youth on the autism spectrum. And they were doing a number of different things. And one of the things in which they were doing was providing an overnight camp for individuals on the spectrum.

00:02:02:51 – 00:02:30:43
KELLY LEE
And Kay and I got involved as students and volunteers, and then both had directed the camp for a number of years and then had stepped away for a number of reasons. Me starting a family in her, you know, career and the nonprofit itself closed and we were contacted by a number of different parents. And prior campers have said, you know, you cannot let this leave the Kansas City area.

00:02:30:48 – 00:02:56:48
KELLY LEE
Again, I was a new wife and then shortly after a new mom and my gig in a local school district was super sweet and all my cards seemed to align perfectly right. So we kind of resisted all of these nudges and then put it after a while because, you know, as they were saying, like, nobody can just take the reins and do this without prior experience.

00:02:56:52 – 00:03:34:26
KELLY LEE
And so we just couldn’t ignore the nudges anymore. Took it on, I think kind of thinking it would just be this cute little, you know, summer side gig as we continued our careers in the field of education. And so we started with a super small group of campers in 2008 was the very first year after getting our nonprofit status in 227, an interest group just like mad with very little marketing, very little social media presence, that it was clear very quickly that there was a need for the service specifically in our area.

00:03:34:26 – 00:03:49:19
KELLY LEE
So it grew and has grown immensely since then. This is our 17th year and we have already grown by about four times the amount since then and continue to grow. So it’s it’s beautiful.

00:03:49:24 – 00:04:11:31
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
How brave of you to take that on, though. It is no easy gig when you have this passion in this idea and then you say, okay, we’re really going to make it happen. And you were working right as well as your colleague. So share with us. Give us that inside look of how you made that happen with all these other balls you were juggling already.

00:04:11:36 – 00:04:31:10
KELLY LEE
Yeah, I think we both just felt so passionately that it had to happen that, like, we didn’t like I will joke that if I knew all of the details and the ins and outs that need to be in place, like you know that I know now, it would have totally intimidated me. And I. I don’t know that I would have thought that I could have done it.

00:04:31:15 – 00:05:00:34
KELLY LEE
But because of all the amazing people that I swear, our campers are just magnets to these amazing supporters and volunteers like with them, you know, joining us along the way and standing beside us. And, you know, it’s it’s happened. It’s all unfolded. But again, like had we known, it would have definitely been overwhelming. But I think just fueled by love, right?

00:05:00:34 – 00:05:09:11
KELLY LEE
You just figure it out. You just take one foot in front of the other and just it just it all just fell into place.

00:05:09:16 – 00:05:31:41
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
So as you all took the reins of this amazing camp, what were the steps to really make it happen? You already had a group of campers that that you know, you knew and I’m sure were chomping at the bit to come back. How would or those first few years in moving forward.

00:05:31:46 – 00:06:04:48
KELLY LEE
Finding the right people that had a heart for what we were doing right was immense. I think one of our biggest reasons that we have been so grounded and stable was due to the support of nonprofit Connect as having that resource locally to nonprofits. It’s been a huge source of education and resources and connections, so that that was a, you know, a huge a huge help that not very many cities, cities can speak of having in their community.

00:06:04:48 – 00:06:23:22
KELLY LEE
So we’re so lucky to have that. Also, you and Casey is a fantastic resource. So just finding, you know, people that that saw that we really had this passion, but also I think the skills. Yeah, definitely like early years.

00:06:23:22 – 00:06:48:08
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
To to make those connections. Before we talk about the journey that, you know, continue on that journey, I want to find out and share with our audience exactly what Camp encourage is, what you do with the kiddos and even the kids that are involved. We talk autism spectrum, and I think that’s a huge array. So the floor is yours, madam.

00:06:48:08 – 00:06:48:36
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Okay.

00:06:48:50 – 00:07:18:21
KELLY LEE
All right. So first I will I’ll just share like what our what our services are, what our program rate programing currently is. The heart of what we do is provide overnight camps for individuals on the spectrum ages ten through 18. And then we also have alumni camps for those that are now 19 and older. And those camps are what you think of when you think of a summer camp, because we believe they deserve to be treated like any other child and have the same experiences as any other child.

00:07:18:21 – 00:07:56:11
KELLY LEE
So there’s horseback riding, ziplining, lots of STEM activities, outdoor education, science based, music based, art based activities. So it’s very much like a typical camp. But what makes it so very special and unique is that it’s really individualized and catered to their specific needs, right? There’s lots of professionals involved that really care about and understand this population. And then something else that makes it, I think, pretty unique is that we really value autistic adults, adults that are living on the autism spectrum.

00:07:56:11 – 00:08:19:45
KELLY LEE
So we find ways to include them to have their voice heard, to make sure that as we are changing things, it is, you know, you know, very much thinking of their needs and their perspective. And so that, you know, we bring them in as volunteers and as leaders as well. And and our nonprofit is important to us, always saving two seats on our board for individuals with autism.

00:08:19:49 – 00:08:45:34
KELLY LEE
So I think that has helped us, you know, just shape really quality programing as including them as well. So outside of our for over five overnight camps, we also will get the campers, whether it’s current campers or potential campers, as well as supporters and volunteers. We have free camp family events throughout the year. So it might be a swimming party or canoeing and fishing.

00:08:45:39 – 00:09:07:39
KELLY LEE
We have a holiday winter party in the winter months and then we’re getting ready to host a panel of autistics that kind of reflect and share on, you know, their lives and their experiences to, you know, open the eyes to others as well. So again, the heart of what we do are those those overnight camps.

00:09:07:44 – 00:09:16:59
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
How do you individual well, let’s assess how many kids are in a session and and talk about go ahead, please.

00:09:17:04 – 00:09:25:12
KELLY LEE
There are about 55 individuals in each of the camp sessions. The alumni sessions are about half their size.

00:09:25:17 – 00:09:32:21
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
And so how do you individual eyes that tell us a little bit about staffing and what the camp day even looks like?

00:09:32:25 – 00:09:54:36
KELLY LEE
Parents and caregivers first, like just share so many details about what keeps their child alert, what calms them, what could trigger, you know, certain things. And so our staff, you know, really appreciates all that input and that helps us prepare. And what was the second question again?

00:09:54:40 – 00:09:59:39
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
How do you how do you step there? You have 55 campers in a, what, 3 to 4 day session?

00:09:59:43 – 00:10:00:46
KELLY LEE
We do. We do.

00:10:00:46 – 00:10:02:33
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
And so how does that happen?

00:10:02:45 – 00:10:31:41
KELLY LEE
Yes, that’s a great question. Remember how I mentioned just all the beautiful people that like magnets, come to support these campers? I am our only full time employee. We have seven other employees right now that are all either part time or very, very seasonal. And so those seven people are usually at all the camp sessions. And then in addition to that, they’re like for our summer camp sessions, there are about 150 individuals that are there volunteering.

00:10:31:46 – 00:10:54:40
KELLY LEE
Probably about less than half of those are there full time. So they commit to all four days and then the others are there just for small bits to help at a carnival to kick off the week, to stand on the side of the the drive as their entry as campers are entering, holding signs that say you are enough, you are welcome, you are loved, you are valuable.

00:10:54:45 – 00:11:00:52
KELLY LEE
And then for our weekend sessions, they are probably closer to 100 volunteers involved in each of those.

00:11:00:57 – 00:11:08:00
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Volunteers are really important to you. Is this an opportunity for the community to help? Absolutely, yes. There are lots.

00:11:08:00 – 00:11:39:18
KELLY LEE
Of different roles from high schoolers that might be thinking that that working with individuals who are neurodiverse that might interest them. This is a great hands on opportunity that’s really like no other. As a prior special education teacher, it was so eye opening for me when I started getting involved in something like this. As a young professional because, you know, we think we know so much of what these, you know, the youth need, but we often forget what the families are also going through.

00:11:39:18 – 00:12:12:42
KELLY LEE
24 seven. And so it’s a great opportunity to open your eyes to, you know, really residing and staying overnight and loving on, you know, those kids and all times of day and not just focused on education. So it’s eye opening for young professionals or young potential professionals. So anyone in undergrad or grad school, we get a lot of those students, anyone currently in the profession or really just anybody that has a big heart for creating a space where people just want to feel loved and welcomed for exactly, you know, who they are and where they are.

00:12:12:46 – 00:12:26:44
KELLY LEE
So we’ve got lots of different types of volunteers and lots of different needs from it just being a couple hours to, you know, the duration of the camp itself. And then also outside of camp, we have volunteer opportunities in our office.

00:12:26:49 – 00:12:31:27
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
What’s the best way for people to connect with you if they want to volunteer? How can you?

00:12:31:31 – 00:12:48:06
KELLY LEE
Yes, they can visit our website at KIPP, encourage dot org, or they can simply send an email at info at Camp Anchorage Dawg, and we’ll send them, you know, help tailor whatever it is that they might be interested in and let them know what the opportunities would be.

00:12:48:10 – 00:12:55:25
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Now, do you put your volunteers through training so they’re not just coming in cold saying, Hi, I’m here, You know, you have my time.

00:12:55:30 – 00:13:02:42
KELLY LEE
For sure, especially those that are there for the duration of camp. Yes, they go through they go through a good amount of training.

00:13:02:47 – 00:13:06:04
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Whereas camp, we failed to say where campus.

00:13:06:09 – 00:13:15:13
KELLY LEE
We are overnight. Camps are currently at Hartland, the Hartland Retreat Center in Parkville, Missouri.

00:13:15:18 – 00:13:27:24
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Let’s talk about the campus specifically. How does that work? Do they put in an application? Is there any kind of screening process? Because as we mentioned a few minutes ago, the spectrum is wide.

00:13:27:28 – 00:13:58:45
KELLY LEE
It is. It is. And when I first year that when we started with that tiny group of campers in that first year in 08k and I said, hey, let’s start with this, you know, a certain population of the spectrum, not all individuals and let’s do that because at the time and still now there are a number of great camps in Missouri and nearby that work that support individuals that need one on one or more intense support constantly throughout camp.

00:13:58:50 – 00:14:39:45
KELLY LEE
And so what was occurring back then was those that maybe that wasn’t a great fit for may have gone and it just wasn’t great programing for them. It wasn’t wasn’t quite the right fit because like you said, the spectrum, they’re all such unique individuals and no one model fits all of them. So they were either going to camps like that and it just didn’t feel like the right fit or they were trying to go to typical camps because maybe they’re like amazing at chess or they really loved music, but that setting just wasn’t staffed or set up to meet their emotional or their sensory needs or to really understand just, you know, their needs in

00:14:39:45 – 00:15:04:46
KELLY LEE
general. And so when we started, we said, then let’s focus on those that don’t need a one on one ratio. Our current staff ratio is like two campers for one. So it’s still a pretty high ratio, two or three campers for two, but we are not providing 1 to 1 support. And when we started we thought, let’s start with this and then we’ll expand to also provide services for one on one support.

00:15:04:46 – 00:15:24:09
KELLY LEE
But what we found when our third year and again, like we were not doing marketing, I’m not even sure we had much of a social media presence those first few years. We had a waiting list of 100 kids after doubling our services by the third year. And so we knew that, gosh, I mean, we’ve still never had a formal marketing plan.

00:15:24:09 – 00:15:55:09
KELLY LEE
We’re just kind of initiating some of those efforts. So we know that the need is there. And and so so we have continued to stick with that. So the campers that we’re serving are okay with a ratio of one adult for every two. Many of them need support like one on one support for specific things, and that is totally okay as long as it is not for the whole duration of of camp, because there are other camps that provide that that our campers are between the age of ten and 18.

00:15:55:14 – 00:16:27:18
KELLY LEE
They’re fairly independent with self-care skills able to tolerate the outdoors right? Like if that is an intense fear of somebody, that might not be the best setting. Again, no one program is a great fit for every individual on the spectrum. And another big thing is that we like to let families know that they will not have electronic devices unless it’s used as a communication device or something and set up for that.

00:16:27:18 – 00:16:39:50
KELLY LEE
They’re they have to know that going in that that will, you know, be something they’ll be without. And it is surprised us how beautiful that spent not have devices and phones with them for the duration of camp so.

00:16:39:50 – 00:16:43:12
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
That’s it for and good for you yeah.

00:16:43:19 – 00:16:49:09
KELLY LEE
Yeah it’s it’s nice it’s a beautiful thing going old school.

00:16:49:14 – 00:17:14:20
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
We’re talking with Kelly Lee. She is co-founder of Camp Encourage. So you got camps set up, you’re chugging along and your growing and you’re growing and you’re growing. Let’s talk about how you all are managing growth. As you said, you’re the only full time employee, heavy, heavy preponderance of your programing in the summer, but you’re doing year round.

00:17:14:21 – 00:17:21:35
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
So so how are you managing growth? What are those things that your organization is doing to figure this out?

00:17:21:39 – 00:17:48:04
KELLY LEE
Yeah, well, first I should say, like I’m immensely grateful for our board of just such strong leaders that have continued to shape really beautiful strategic plans that have been our flashlight and our guide as we as we grow. I think one thing that I’ll share that’s been really important for us that we value is that camp. It should be available to all.

00:17:48:09 – 00:18:11:10
KELLY LEE
And so we haven’t grown in there. Really, really. I mean, we’ve grown a lot, but we haven’t grown in what could be a really rapid way because we want to make sure that families are able to come, that it’s equitable, that we have scholarship funding available for them. Each year, about 60 to 75% of our families request and receive scholarships, either partial or full.

00:18:11:15 – 00:18:32:22
KELLY LEE
And so that’s always been really important to us that as we grow, that percentage stays the same. Again, for equity and to make sure that it is something that is is there for for everyone. So that’s something that’s, you know, as we grow, we had to make sure that we are financially stable and that we have that scholarship funding available and that that’s not limited.

00:18:32:31 – 00:18:58:15
KELLY LEE
And then the other huge thing, so there’s probably three things that have been a little challenging that could be a challenge that we continue to thankfully meet. Another one is volunteers, right? As we grow because we rely so heavily on those volunteers. That’s been something that we’ve had to be really mindful of in just continuing to secure sufficient volunteers as we grow.

00:18:58:17 – 00:19:22:12
KELLY LEE
We’re hoping to add another camp session by 2026. So that’s something we’re working really hard to continue to establish good relationships with our current pool of volunteers, but also find new volunteers to help us grow. And then the last challenge is that we rent our campgrounds right from an amazing place, and they’re crazy accommodating and so welcoming. But they may not always have space for us as we continue to grow.

00:19:22:17 – 00:19:42:29
KELLY LEE
And so another challenge is looking at other possible locations. As for that growth still here in Missouri, in Kansas, or seeing how we can squeeze in and convince our current camp to allow us to grow, there. So those are those are kind of our three, the three challenges that we’ve that we’re addressing as we grow.

00:19:42:34 – 00:19:54:20
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
So goodness, I would think running a camp has extent on its own and you rely a lot on volunteers. You know, what does it cost to like run a camp session.

00:19:54:25 – 00:20:17:37
KELLY LEE
To run our five camp sessions? Our budget is a little over a half a million dollars. So the biggest expenses are, you know, reserving the camp, the lodging, the meals, especially when we have that many volunteers and everything, the quality activities and supplies and a lack goes into it.

00:20:17:42 – 00:20:28:25
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
And do kids that. So they apply, I assume, to come to camp. Is there a screening process that goes on?

00:20:28:30 – 00:20:49:10
KELLY LEE
Yeah, there is. I was kind of listing these are the kind of kids that we serve. There’s, you know, checklists. The parents go through just to confirm it’s going to be a good fit, that they’re going to like the activities that, you know, that are offered. And so, yes, there’s a lengthy application process. Very rarely does a parent get through that where we may call up for more information.

00:20:49:10 – 00:20:59:40
KELLY LEE
Right. That we may be concerned about something that that could occur. We’re often pretty able to meet their needs with, you know, detailed plans and such.

00:20:59:40 – 00:21:11:01
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
So what does a session cost? I assume, campers, you said that up to 75% get some kind of scholarship. But what what’s a session? So our audience has an idea.

00:21:11:06 – 00:21:35:12
KELLY LEE
Yeah, for the four day session it’s it’s 1295 and then for the week in session it’s 595. But again, with every application, we encourage every parent to consider applying and some don’t somehow have outside funding also that they use. But we really greatly encourage families to go ahead and apply for consideration.

00:21:35:17 – 00:21:58:11
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Yeah, I’m sorry to be so heavy on the money, but I you know, it is for you because it’s such an intense experience in terms of, you know, 2 to 1 and what you offer and what that. All right. So let’s let’s talk about the big bad guy in the room. Right. Many budget fundraising. So where does your where do you get your funds to support this wonderful program?

00:21:58:15 – 00:21:58:59
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Yeah, we.

00:21:58:59 – 00:22:26:49
KELLY LEE
We have a beautiful, diverse pool of funds for it, whether it’s individuals that have been supporting us for years. Camps for Kids is a local nonprofit that supports camps and helps provide scholarship funding. They’ve been a beautiful supporter of ours for years. Lots of local foundations, some corporate support through sponsorships of our signature event. And then our event also will generate some support as well.

00:22:26:49 – 00:22:34:38
KELLY LEE
And that’s called S’mores and Pours. And it takes place in October and it is a really fun event.

00:22:34:42 – 00:22:40:01
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
So when you put out and how do you put out information about this, this s’mores and more sounds fantastic.

00:22:40:01 – 00:23:02:20
KELLY LEE
What fun It is so fun. It’s kind of like a typical garland that there’s an auction, right? A live auction, an online auction and a fund. Need a dinner. But it’s so not like any other gala just in that it’s camp themed. So there’s roasting s’mores by the campfire. There’s everybody in camp gear. So people are in plaid.

00:23:02:20 – 00:23:27:51
KELLY LEE
And, you know, it’s just this super comfortable, almost sort of family reunion like affair videos are showcased created typically by someone local named Tyler work in where he comes and spends time at camp and collects stories on our campers. And so those are always shared at s’mores and poor. So it’s just a really heartwarming night.

00:23:27:56 – 00:23:53:31
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
That sounds so great. How fun. All right. I got a mark that on my calendar. Sounds like a fun thing to go and do. You’ve been in this field for a long time as a professional teacher. I imagine maybe doing a little administrative stuff over time. What is it about working with these kiddos that inspires you? What? What keeps you going?

00:23:53:31 – 00:24:07:35
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
It’s it’s not easy to run a nonprofit, let alone the nonprofit that then is working with people who are neurodiverse and that they’re all such individuals.

00:24:07:35 – 00:24:23:53
KELLY LEE
Right? Like, that’s so fascinating to me too, just to get to know each person that that many of them are very misunderstood. Like what is what appears is really not who they are. And how capable they are. And so I just.

00:24:23:53 – 00:24:24:54
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Have this.

00:24:24:59 – 00:24:47:19
KELLY LEE
This passion to help pull that out and let those that those things shine. And I think that’s what, you know, drives me and all of our board members and my staff and volunteers just in that they see that this is such a unique setting where these campers can grow in amazing ways in such a short window of time.

00:24:47:24 – 00:25:04:11
KELLY LEE
I mean, it’s just really like, no, no other setting hard to describe until you’re really there. So it’s just that it’s that wholehearted belief in what we do and in seeing the impact done on them when they’re there.

00:25:04:15 – 00:25:20:17
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Now, you mentioned you actually rent the space where you are in the summer. So how do you bring in those elements like horseback riding and other things? Are they already part of this retreat center or do you have to bring it all in? they are part they are telling us a little bit about that.

00:25:20:22 – 00:25:41:40
KELLY LEE
Yeah, they have horseback riding that’s available there. They have wranglers that are there to oversee it and they’re, you know, really wonderful with our campers and meeting their needs and being patient with them. And same thing with like the zip lining that is also available there on the campgrounds. So those are all things that they will provide for us swimming.

00:25:41:40 – 00:25:55:00
KELLY LEE
They have some other things too that we can rent, like inflatables, like slides, things like that. So those things are already there. Other things we do on occasion bring in just to mix up some of the activities.

00:25:55:05 – 00:26:06:20
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
And when you talk about the volunteer pool and you talk about you try to engage folks who may be gone through Camp four and are now young adults, do you have any of them back volunteering during camp?

00:26:06:25 – 00:26:31:41
KELLY LEE
Yeah, at any camp session we usually have somewhere between ten and 20 to 25% of our volunteers are on the spectrum. So maybe somebody loves astronomy, so he leads in astronomy activity. A couple help as counselors because they’re really loving and insightful and are great at really hearing the campers out and understanding their perspective. And then we have others that come and help behind the scenes and with activities as well.

00:26:31:41 – 00:26:43:23
KELLY LEE
So it just it really depends on what their interests are and what their abilities are, that we can try to find ways that their abilities can shine.

00:26:43:28 – 00:26:56:48
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
You strike me as a bit of a dreamer, someone who’s inspired you doing a few minutes we have left. Let’s talk a little bit. Where do you see camp encouraged, let’s say, in the next ten years or so?

00:26:56:53 – 00:27:27:30
KELLY LEE
Yeah, well, we are in the early stages of initiating helping out another camp in Southern California to start a very similar camp. And so the dreamer in me wants to continue doing that. You know, planting other seeds so that other there are more and more opportunities like this for campers across the nation. I also really want to see more and a more diverse set of campers and leaders come to Camp Encourage.

00:27:27:30 – 00:28:14:42
KELLY LEE
We’ve been working really hard to to reach out to and build relationships and trust with with all of our community members in Kansas City. So that’s been something that our board and I are very passionate about, is being really intentional about being equitable. And so that’s a big dream of mine, is I hope to see more and more diversity and just a better representation of Jackson County, for example, coming to each of our camp sessions and continuing to grow, whether it be at the at the current campgrounds, at another campgrounds, or if, you know, in some dreamy fashion, perhaps creating our own campgrounds where it’s all very designate, you know, designed, intentionally laid out for

00:28:14:42 – 00:28:18:31
KELLY LEE
our campers and their needs.

00:28:18:36 – 00:28:24:24
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
What would you like our audience to do? How can we help? Tell us.

00:28:24:29 – 00:28:47:46
KELLY LEE
Yeah, there’s just so many ways to get engaged in camp, encourage as a volunteer, as a supporter, as a as a board member. And I think what’s so special about it and why we have such a great retention rate is that you see the impact of your input, you see the impact of your time directly. It’s all local.

00:28:47:46 – 00:29:24:35
KELLY LEE
All of our campers are from Missouri and Kansas. 75 to 80% are from Kansas City. You see your scholarship funding going to a specific camper like I think that’s what’s so great about it, right? Is, you know, those that have been with us since the beginning, they know that it’s because of them that we continue to grow. So there’s just I just say that if this touches anyone’s heart, whether you know, somebody that lives, you know, that has autism or do not, but this touches your heart, reach out and, you know, will it will help plug you in in a meaningful way.

00:29:24:40 – 00:29:51:04
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
Kelly Lee, Camp in Courage, thank you so much for sharing about this incredible organization. If you want to know more, it’s Camp encourage dot org. Google it. Go find them. They’re doing great work. Thank you so much. Thank you, Ruth. Thank you for joining us for KC Care’s Kansas City’s nonprofit Voice, we’re produced by Charitable Communications, also a nonprofit.

00:29:51:09 – 00:30:13:08
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
This Casey Care segment was brought to you by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation W WW dot Coffman dot org. If you’d like to be a guest on KC Cares or underwriting opportunities for the support that we give the community, visit our Web site. KC cares online that or and spread the love. Find us on Facebook and Twitter at KC Cares Radio and on Instagram at KC Cares online.

00:30:13:08 – 00:30:23:42
RUTH BAUM BIGUS
And don’t forget to catch us on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. on ESPN 15:10 a.m. and 94.5 FM. Thank you for joining us on KC Cares.