We have been energized by the engagement around our most active and important membership support program, our daily Drop-Ins. Each day for about an hour, we spend time with our membership unpacking all things surrounding the Coronavirus and its impact on our community. Recently, I asked Cheryle Yallen to Zoom with me and share a little about her experience with the Drop-Ins. Cheryle is the Executive Director of One in a Hundred and has been an ACA Illinois member since 2012.
Membership & Program Services Director
American Camp Association, Illinois
An Interview with Cheryle Yallen, ACA Illinois' Most Frequent Drop-In Participant!
Kim Steiner: What drew you to the drop-ins?
Cheryle Yallen: The nerves, stress, and desperate need for information and needed support.
Kim: Which drop-ins did you engage with?
Cheryle: I had four a week! I was very active from the very beginning in the executive director drop in and was really involved in another one on Thursday mornings as well. I started with those two and the moment you opened up the day camp and the special needs, I joined those. Then when we started to make the serious decision to go virtual, I joined that one as well. I basically was on 4 a week.
Kim: Were the drop-ins a beneficial resource for you? Why?
Cheryle: Absolutely, without question. Even though it was time consuming, it was what I needed. I had all the confidence in the world that you guys had the most up to date information, so it also saved me time googling and searching for information. It was also beneficial to connect with other camp people, and although other attendees were from overnight camps or park districts, which I can't necessarily relate to, it was still being with other camp people. I always walked away with something, it almost became my quiet contemplation time, where my only focus was camp. It was also beneficial because I had a support group. Friends and people close to me listened to what I am going through, but at the same time they don't understand the industry. So I had that comfort level in these Drop-Ins that people understood me. It was just a wonderful support system and exactly what I needed. I wanted to explore every option so I was making an informed decision about camp. It was out of those conversations that would trigger thoughts or ideas or considerations that had not even occurred to me.
There was one meeting where Colette was reminding everyone to make sure you have what we were talking about reviewed with the lawyer. I was all set, but it was those continuous reminders that we need to check with our internal resources throughout this crisis. I was delighted when you introduced this and enjoyed the face to face.
Kim: What would you say to camp professionals considering attending?
Cheryle: Absolutely do it. Because of 3 things. One, the information you are getting, and it’s good information that you can rely on, because you need to be able to rely on something. Two, the ideas. Even if your camp is totally unlike any other camp there you will always walk away with something you haven't thought of; not always earth shattering, but something you had not thought of. Three, the support, and being with like type people. It didn’t matter that they were all over the states - we all had the same issues. I would basically say go. For the most part attending these events worked out well and I would recommend attending more than once, because each time is different, and it's also just comfortable.
We continue to provide these Drop-In meetings as a resource for camp professionals, and we hope that you join us! We will continue to adjust our programming to accommodate the changing needs of our community, so keep an eye out for our emails and website updates.
You can learn more about our Drop-ins at acail.org/dropins