A camp operated by university students,
with support from faculty, alumni and staff,
to serve citizens with physical and mental challenges

Tufts Periscope, November 2003


The Giving Camp

The Giving Camp exceeded all expectations during its first year at Tufts. The camp-operated by university students, with support from faculty, alumni, and staff— serves citizens with physical and mental challenges from Somerville and Medford free of charge. Diane Ricciardelli, director of the Giving Camp and tireless fund-raiser, says,"The Giving Camp is a community project with almost no administrative overhead."

Businesses, community groups,Tufts departments, clubs, and individuals contributed generously to the camp's success by providing donations, services, time, goods, and meals.

During the April 2003 camp session, 30 adults, 20 children, and 150 volunteers participated in separate programs at the Gantcher Center and at Cousens Gym. Guests learned break-dance moves from the student dance company Turbo; watched the student interactive theater group Traveling Treasure Trunk perform; followed a list of clues for a scavenger hunt led by the Protestant Fellowship; painted a 50-foot mural; constructed birdhouses; tossed Frisbees;

Graduate student Cristy Mendoza shares a dance with Kevin Ryan.

and participated in lively sing-alongs.

Rick Miller, facilities coordinator for athletics, played a key role in planning the space logistics for the Giving Camp. Linda Karpowich, chaplaincy coordinator,worked with students Laena Orkin and Megan White to collect on-campus donations, schedule the delivery of tables and chairs, process paperwork, and participate in Steering Committee meetings.Tufts Emergency Medical Services provided an ambulance escort from Cousens to Dewick Dining Hall to ensure the safety of camp guests.Dewick

Dining staff warmly greeted and served the guests, who dined among the Tufts community. During the three-day Giving Camp session in August, led by Tufts junior Zach Baker,

20 freshman volunteers accompanied 25 guests on the Duck Tours to sightsee around Boston and bowl at Sacco's Bowl Haven, a Somerville bowling alley. "This was a very positive experience for the guests and freshman volunteers," says Ricciardelli. "It was particularly fun for our freshmen who were in Boston for the first time.Duck Tour staff and tourists also loaned a helping hand to accommodate our guests in wheelchairs."

Children with autism were the focus of a November 15-16 session of the Giving Camp. "Child development department faculty, graduate students, and volunteers worked to develop activities to address the special needs of children with autism," says Ricciardelli. "The parents are so grateful that we're able to provide this camp for their kids. It also allows them a much-needed break."

The Rev. David O'Leary, university chaplain and a founding member of the Giving Camp, sums it up: "The Giving Camp has provided the opportunity for Tufts students to put their education to immediate use.The Tufts students are also giving back to the community, as all of our guests are from the Medford and Somerville area. It is hoped that the Giving Camp at Tufts will be a model for other colleges and universities, so that they can give back to their neighbors."