Help send us to camp!

This summer, we're making a big thing happen we've never been able to do before: we're bringing all our staff and volunteers -- from the United States, Europe,  Canada, and even our staffer in Australia -- to one place for a giant staff campout and team-building retreat.

Our work is often inspiring and exciting, but it also asks a lot of us.  Work in sex and relationships education, emotional support and crisis care, especially with the kind of culturally diverse population we serve, all have a high rate of burnout, no matter how great a workplace is or how amazing the people doing the work are. We're an organization that's always been trailblazing in a challenging line of work we've always done differently than most, work that is also culturally and economically undersupported and treated as controversial. We're also, and always have been, a fully independent organization: we don't have any institutional, federal or foundational support. Our organizational culture is also a little -- sometimes a lot -- different than it tends to be with many nonprofits, especially when it comes to giving young people leadership roles. We always want to do all we can to assure our staff feel as cared for as our users do and have a staff that feels positive and energized when providing all of the kinds of service that we do. Raising the bar when it comes to staff and volunteer support, morale and team-building is core to us as an organization.

We have tools to communicate with and support each other online in order to do the work we do at Scarleteen. We do a great job supporting each other and communicating remotely, and between those of us who can work in the same area and connect in-person sometimes. But it's just not the same as connecting in person and having extensive, dedicated time to more deeply connect as a team.  I've met nearly all of our staff face-to-face, but only some of them have ever met one another. We've never all been able to be in the same place at one time. We've been dreaming about something like this for a long time now.

We do intend to spend some of our time together on training and organizational planning. But most of what we really want to do, feel we need most and believe will net the greatest benefit for those we serve and our staff, is greater intraorganizational connectivity to support morale and to nurture and deepen our relationships with each other. An already-strong team that can be and feel even stronger as a team provides our staff emotional support -- both to do our best work here, but also for everyone's well-being as people, not just workers -- and can give our users an even better experience with us than they already have. 

As you may already know, despite our vast level of reach and our long tenure (nearing two decades now!), Scarleteen still has only a very lean budget to work with. The good news about that is that we already know how to do things in a very cost-effective way.  We're also lucky our staff and volunteers are a group of laid-back people who don't insist on, or even want, fancy-schmancy stuff like swanky hotels and shiny restaurants. It doesn't hurt that I live and work in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where there's an excellent hostel and campground right down the block in the forest that's my neighborhood, have a best friend here with me during the summer who's a trained chef willing to volunteer her services and some locals who appreciate who we are and what we do who'll pitch in as they can, too. (I also have painfully cute dogs everyone wants to hang out with, and they are generously willing to barter in kisses, pets and frisbee-throws for their services.)

Thanks to all of that, we can pull off this campout and retreat for around 15 of our staff and volunteers for four nights and five days, with meals and travel costs included, as well as some fun activities, for around $10,000 -- that's just $135 a day per person -- an incredible rate for this kind of retreat for this many and this length of time. This cost also incudes childcare for two of the participants with children. And of course, every part of the retreat will be as inclusive as we are as an organization, and disability access and any other needed adaptations are a given.

Here's what we're asking you for:

I've already carefully managed our budget over the last year to be sure we could fund about half this cost with our existing funding. We're looking to raise around $5,000 from our supporters, which will cover everyone's travel costs. In the awesome event we can raise more than that sum, additional funds can cover the lodging our volunteers from afar need a couple days in advance of camp (so they don't have to participate with hideous jet lag), opening a day of camp to staff from other local organizations we work with or local youth want-to-be peer educators, and any more on top of that will just go into funding our general operations and programming as donations to us usually do. 

To make a donation for our retreat, click here.

We can't thank you enough for any support you give. (Troublepants and Moo thank you, too. They're super excited about the incoming kisses, pets and frisbee-throwing.) We all just couldn't be more excited about this, and we're so grateful for your help in making it happen!

- Heather Corinna, Scarleteen Founder and Director

(Illustration @2016 Isabella Rotman.  All rights reserved.)