Lauren Camp '09 began volunteering for the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware (DSA) in 2010 in part because she was inspired by a St. Anne's faculty member who has a family member with Down Syndrome. In 2012, she started the Days of Summer Camp, a one-week summer camp program offered at no cost to children with Down Syndrome and their siblings. The camp began at St. Anne's and outgrew our campus after several years; it now hosts 150 participants per year in two locations throughout the state! She continued her involvement with the DSA while finishing her degrees and has been serving as their youngest Executive Director since June 2017.
Lauren has since presented her summer camp model at national conferences for others to replicate across the country. At the recent Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Conference, DSA and their partners received four Affiliates in Actions Awards including recognition of the Days of Summer program. Lauren was also one of the policy team members that presented on advocacy topics at the conference.
Lauren recently took the time to answer some questions for us about her not-so-new job.
Congratulations on your new role of Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware! What is most rewarding and most challenging in your job as Executive Director?
The most rewarding part of my job is working with families. I enjoy providing direct support to them and am able to do so in a variety of settings. I frequently visit families in the hospital- when their child is first born or if the child or adult is experiencing an illness. Meeting new families, serving as a support person for them and giving them resources that will make a difference makes my work valuable.
The most challenging part of my job is securing more funding for our organization. We are a growing non-profit that is continuously looking for donors and sponsors for our programming. I welcome the support of St. Anne's families- whether your family would like to volunteer your time together or provide monetary support, please reach out.
What excites you about this work?
I am the only employee for the organization so I am involved in all aspects of management- programing, fundraising, event planning, grant applications, education and outreach. I enjoy being involved in so many different tasks. I never have a day that looks the same as the last!
Could you describe something you learned at St. Anne's that has benefited you?
St. Anne's allowed me to develop my leadership skills, which I continued throughout high school, college and now my career. At St. Anne's I served as Yearbook Editor for numerous years, mentored at St. Andrew's preschool and served on Student Council. I am still in touch with many of my teachers from St. Anne's and have remained lifelong friends with some of my St. Anne's classmates.
What are your aspirations for the future? Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to be working for a national non-profit which benefits the disability community at large. In the meantime, I welcome members of the St. Anne's community interested in learning more about DSA and St. Anne's 7th and 8th grade students in need of community service hours to contact me via phone (302 995 1004)or email for more information!
Lauren attended Appoquinimink High School after St. Anne's and graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor's degree in Public Policy with a minor in Disabilities Studies. Her Master's degree is in Public Administration with a specialization in Nonprofit Management. In addition to her work at DSA, Lauren is also a Policy Associate for the National Down Syndrome Congress and is a Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Board member. She and her fiancé, Bryce Gates, will wed in 2019.