July, 2017  

The Metrics of Hope, Joy, and Love

 

Hope, Joy, and Love.

They’re the profound, but seemingly intangible emotions that are woven like so many gossamer threads throughout every corner of Camp Goodtimes.

For two magical weeks in the Puget Sound, these feelings surround the campers — pediatric cancer patients, survivors, and their siblings — and the volunteer staff of The Goodtimes Project alike. Yet they are more than just feelings, they are the very goals by which our charity seeks to measure its success. They’re right there in our Vision Statement:

All families affected by childhood cancer

will experience a community of hope, joy, and love.

The question becomes: how does one properly measure a feeling? How do we as a charity quantify and qualify magic? I sought to find that answer over two weeks of Camp.

The volunteer staff for June Camp celebrates Carnival Day

The volunteer staff for June Camp celebrates Carnival Day

June

For our first session of Camp, I had the unique perspective of being an observer off and on throughout the week as the staff created a caring space allowing for kids, forced to grow up all too fast, to just be kids again. From this “10,000 foot view” I was able to see the remarkable compassion, patience, and skill displayed by our volunteer corps of more that 250 community leaders. Women and men from across the country came together, united behind one singular vision. Staff was composed of all ages and all walks of life, but what impressed me the most was the unique skill on display. Across both camps I met professionals who were in the top of their field in medicine, behavioral psychology, elementary education, pediatric therapy, etc. Each brought his/her own unique skill-set and experience to enrich the world we created out on Vashon Island. Why do they give their time, energy, and talents so loyally, year after year? One staffer summed it up best when he said: “At camp, I’m the best version of myself.” 

The boys of Cabin 4 run through lower field, accompanied by their CAP, "Disney" and one of their counselors, "Irish."

The boys of Cabin 4 run through lower field, accompanied by their CAP, "Disney" and one of their counselors, "Irish."

July

For our second session of Camp, I was able to see a very different side of the Hope, Joy, and Love. As a counselor for Cabin 4, I had the privilege of spending a week surrounded by some incredible children. 

I saw kids arriving with their guard raised — fully suited up with the emotional and psychological armor they are forced to wear as they confront realities that would break most adults. Then, day by day, the armor plating began to degrade. Laughter, silliness, and that carefree attitude that all kids deserve to have, began to peek through. 

Activities like fishing, swimming, archery, crafting, rock-climbing, kayaking, etc are all infused with a sense of joyful abandon. Songs are sung to and from activities, with the music of laughter lifting us all up in-between. Every child participates in every activity, regardless of physical challenges. Every staffer has the chance to get to know, and to learn from, these inspirational kids. Everyone at Camp gives and exudes the kind of grace you can only hope to see in your day to day life.

 

By the final day, every camper returned to just being a kid. By the final day, every staffer was a kid again too.

The power of Camp Goodtimes had allowed us all to tap into the best version of ourselves.

 

Like all of the things that matter most in this world, we’ll never be able to assign a concrete metric to the Hope, Joy, and Love that our charity strives to create for these kids and families. But we will know we are staying true to our vision and ultimately fulfilling our mission every time a child’s smile is rediscovered, every time tears — both happy and cathartic — are shed, and every summer when some of our community’s best leaders get together and decide to put kids first.

 

Thanks to all who made our two sessions of Camp Goodtimes so very special this year. You make the world a better place by sharing the best part of yourselves with the best part of our community: the kids and families we are so lucky to serve.

 

-Zac "Irish" Johnson

Executive Director, The Goodtimes Project

Cabin 4 Counselor, July 2017

 

 

April, 2017

Our Collective Goal for the 14th Annual Goodtimes Wine Auction

This year we hope to raise $400,000 in one evening! Sound extreme? There’s a very important reason why…

Goal-setting for a fundraising event can be a tricky task. Widely publicizing that goal can feel even riskier. Over-reach and you risk disappointing your whole community. Set a goal unsupported by metrics or need, and you could potentially alienate the altruistic impulses of your donor base.

So why take that risk? Why throw out a number in advance when the potential downsides seem so significant? The answer: because the kids we serve deserve nothing less. Studies into philanthropy have shown that when you set a public goal, one based on the clearly articulated needs of the mission, and one grounded in realism, you give those who care about the cause a chance to rise to the occasion. My personal experience has shown that whenever you set a goal, you give your community a chance to own the results themselves, and to celebrate the outcome — whatever the end result — on a much deeper level. 

With that in mind we’re being very public about our desire to raise $400,000 at this year’s Annual Goodtimes Wine Auction. This is not an arbitrary number, nor is it an outlandish one. It is a stretch, surely, and would represent a 20% increase over our fundraising total in 2016. We have historically grown by 20% for the past few years, so the numbers and historical momentum add up, but far more important is the significance of that number: $400,000. It is not just a nice, round number. It is almost exactly what it costs for us to put on two sessions of Camp Goodtimes for 250 campers.

Simply put, if we can raise $400k on April 22nd, we will have fully-funded camp for our kids ages 7-17. This milestone will allow us to invest all remaining funds received throughout the year into new programs (additional sessions of camp, kayak camp, and even newer ventures) to fulfill our mission of providing caring spaces for kids to be kids and for families affected by childhood cancer to connect. This disease, which we’re all dedicated to fighting, does not take a break — nor should our programing. With your help, and our collective focus behind one goal on April 22nd, we can make our vision and mission a reality in just a few short hours.

-Zac / "Irish"

Executive Director

 

January, 2017

Our new Executive Director, Zac (right) with friend and motivational speaking mentor, Nate (left)

Our new Executive Director, Zac (right) with friend and motivational speaking mentor, Nate (left)

 

Introducing our new Executive Director: Zac Johnson!

The Goodtimes Project family is thrilled to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director. Zac has been quietly working with the organization for several months to build out our strategic plan and has already met with many of you to better understand how to lead our organization in its goal of ensuring all families affected by childhood cancer can experience a community of hope, joy, and love.

He brings a strong background in leadership on the national non-profit level and has dedicated his life to helping sick kids around the world. He now calls Seattle home and is eager to continue to make a difference in our community.

We asked Zac to take a break from donor meetings and event planning to answer some of the questions we figured you all might have for our new ED:

 

Zac, with his Friend and Inspiration, Mickey. Born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, Mickey would go on to battle leukemia when she was 7. Now 12 years cancer-free Mickey, will be participating in the Miss Indiana Pageant this year!

Zac, with his Friend and Inspiration, Mickey. Born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, Mickey would go on to battle leukemia when she was 7. Now 12 years cancer-free Mickey, will be participating in the Miss Indiana Pageant this year!

Q: The first question many people would have — why does The Goodtimes Project need an Executive Director?

A: That’s what originally got me so excited about the job! As you know, Camp Goodtimes has been around for 34 years, but as a charity we’re very new. When The Goodtimes Project was formed to save the Camp after its funding was cut, it was saved by some of the most dedicated volunteers, donors, and families I have ever encountered. In many ways The Goodtimes Project was so successful in “saving” itself, it doesn’t need a traditional Executive Director.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: Well, many non-profits our size will hire an executive director to “right-the-ship” or even just “keep the ship afloat.” The Goodtimes Project isn’t like other non-profits. It has a community of support so beyond most other charities that the governing volunteer Board felt they were in a position to bring someone on who could lead us in a bold new direction. That was the challenge that drew me to this position.

Q: What is your vision for The Goodtimes Project?

Our new ED, speaking at a conference last year

Our new ED, speaking at a conference last year

A: That all families affected by childhood cancer will be able to experience a community of hope, joy, and love. We will continue to create caring spaces for families to connect and for kids to be kids. Camp is a great way to do that, but we’ll be adding more events and programs to support our community thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Q: How do you plan to engage the Community?

A: We’ll be developing some exciting programming based on feedback from the families we’ve supported in the past, as well as families we hope to support in the future. Of course, new programming will require new fundraising initiatives, but I am confident we have a community ready to get behind this mission.

Q: You have worked at numerous children’s hospitals and most recently oversaw the Youth Marketing division for one of the nation’s largest children’s charities — but what is your connection to camp?

A: Having always been closer to the medical side of Development, I’ve seen what our great US hospitals can do for children, but I’ve also seen what programs like summer camp can do for patients, siblings, and their families. Kids are stronger than they often get credit for, and the more we can help them connect to that strength, by just being kids, the better their outcome during treatment and well into their journey as survivors. Camp has been, and will continue to be, one of the most significant ways we, as a community, can help these families. Luckily for me, when it comes to all things Camp, I’m surrounded by a staff and a core group of volunteers who can teach me everything I need to know about Camp and the magic that surrounds it. My job will be to keep that program going strong while at the same time sharing the hope, joy, and love it represents with families throughout Western Washington and Alaska through a myriad of new programs.

Q: Speaking of Camp- what’s your Camp nickname?

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland -- a few miles from where Zac's family lived for generations.

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland -- a few miles from where Zac's family lived for generations.

A: The nicknames originally drew me to connect with The Goodtimes Project in the first place! Here was a charity that took its mission seriously, but who didn’t take themselves too seriously. Charity should always be ego-free and everyone involved with The Goodtimes Project lives by that. My nickname is “Irish.” My mom is Irish and I lived in Dublin just last year. More importantly, I imagine it will lend itself to some creative costumes come Camp season!

Q: Outside of work- what are some of your other interests?

A: I’m new to the Seattle area so most of my time outside of work has been spent exploring my new home. I also enjoy reading and writing and am a die hard Chicago Cubs fan… this past season was a dream come true!

Q: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to in 2017?

A: Just being a part of this incredible family. Life’s been kind enough to put me in the right place at the right time. I've managed to work with some inspirational charities, just as they are skyrocketing to bold new heights. This good fortune has allowed me to make a difference to the causes I care about most. I trust that luck will continue in 2017.