Bournelyf Special Camp

Employees at Lexus of Chester Springs, one of the sponsors of Bournelyf Special Camp’s 10th annual Hand-to-Hand 5K, kicked off the virtual race, which raised over $11,000 for the West Chester non-profit.

WEST CHESTER — In challenging times, Bournelyf Special Camp has found a way not only to adapt, but thrive, in the face of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s something the Camp Bournelyf community knows well – rising above challenges.

The non-profit organization, located on South New Street in West Chester, was founded in 1980 and for the past 40 years has provided summer camp experiences and year-round activities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While COVID-19 has altered how Bournelyf operates this year, the non-profit continues to achieve its mission of serving the special needs community.

In early spring, as proms, graduations and events were canceled throughout the region, Camp Bournelyf’s annual spring fundraiser, the Hand-to-Hand 5K Run/2K Walk, was postponed and revamped. Originally scheduled to be held at Rustin High School in early May, the event was transformed into a run/walk held July 2-6 – virtually anywhere.

Over 150 individuals participated in the 10th Annual Hand-to-Hand 5K, running or walking on their own and posting their photos and times online. By going virtual, the event drew runners from far beyond Chester County, with participants pounding the pavement and trails in Texas, Colorado, Main, Vermont, Louisiana, and New York.

“We are grateful to all those who participated in this year’s event,” said Scott deLone, assistant director at Bournelyf. “The support of so many individuals, combined with the support of local businesses, enabled a virtual-only event to surpass all expectations.”

Local businesses supporting the Hand-to-Hand 5K as sponsors included Lexus of Chester Springs, Meridian Bank, Otto’s BMW, and Spina and Adams Collision Services. With their support – and 152 enthusiastic participants running for Bournelyf – the event raised over $11,000 to support the mission of Camp Bournelyf.

Like its spring fundraiser, Camp Bournelyf’s summer camp was also pushed into a virtual experience this summer.

“As much as we wanted to hold camp in person this summer, it just wasn’t the prudent path,” said Richard Curth, executive director of Camp Bournelyf. “And while nothing can truly replace our face-to-face camp experience, we are grateful to be able to provide a virtual camp experience to our campers. Our staff has done a wonderful job of creating a virtual program that has kept our community connected and engaged.”

Held via Zoom – with campers, counselors, and special guests all online together – the virtual camp experience is proving to be a success. Each week, campers engage in a range of interactive and themed activities, including virtual field trips to the Philadelphia Zoo and Thorncroft Equestrian Center. Special guests also join the campers each week, with former Philadelphia Eagle Brent Celek the highlight of one recent camp session. Celek surprised campers as the camp session’s “Mystery Reader,” reading a story to the campers.

Camp Bournelyf’s virtual summer camp ends August 7, but Bournelyf is already planning for future virtual events while looking forward to the day the community can come together in person again.

In addition to a successful camp season, the non-profit organization is also grateful for a recent grant provided by the Connelly Foundation, which will provide $20,000 over the next two years to help ensure Bournelyf’s mission continues to thrive.

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