April 17, 2020

Dear Camp Community,

After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to host our programs scheduled for this summer. Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 we need human connection more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and community are, and will continue to be, our highest priorities.

We know that the loss of camp will leave a hole in all our hearts. But, as always, we are committed to keeping camp culture alive and thriving, whether we’re gathered around the campfire or social distancing at home. We are so excited to share that One Heartland is collaborating with our longtime partner, Hollywood HEART, as we explore the possibility of taking camp online! See the FAQ section below for more information on this exciting collaboration.

Beyond this summer, there is the real possibility that One Heartland could become another fatality of COVID-19. Because of the virus, One Heartland has already suffered the loss of many thousands of dollars in revenue, donations (as funders pivot to addressing emergency relief efforts), and unrecoverable expenses. Lacking an endowment or operating reserves, it will require more than substantial staff layoffs, pay reductions, and other belt-tightening measures for us to survive. One Heartland’s future is going to depend on ingenuity and generosity. Luckily, our community is rich in both.

In order to secure the future of camp, One Heartland is looking at having to raise almost $350,000 in the upcoming weeks. The reality of the situation is that if that effort fails, we will be forced to close our doors forever. Ending One Heartland’s 28 years of bringing hope to young people who need it most is a fate we will be working night and day to prevent. If you are able, we invite you to join in this effort by supporting us and recruiting others to this cause. Click here to donate now.

Since our earliest days of traveling around the Midwest renting camp sites, we have always been, first and foremost, a community. And we’re a community familiar with being in a state of survival. There were many years when One Heartland struggled because of H1N1, flooding, and financial struggles. Thanks to your support we made it through. Now, together as a community, we will tackle this challenge the same way humans across the globe are doing right now — by drawing strength and inspiration from one another.

Your friends at One Heartland


What’s happening?

As we all know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc around the world. At this point the likelihood of camp being able to gather safely this Summer is extremely low. Because One Heartland requires the collaboration and commitment of our entire community – volunteers, seasonal staff, international staff, local staff, supporters, fundraising events, campers, participants, caregivers and medical personnel— coupled with significant investments of time, money, and energy, we don’t think it’s practical for us to continue waiting and hoping for the best. Nor do we think that would be fair to our community members who give so much of themselves to our camps. Beyond our concerns about the coronavirus many of our fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed and many of our supporters and Foundations have diverted funding to basic needs because of coronavirus. This has essentially limited our financial viability at this time.  

What does this mean for the future of the organization? What will you do instead of summer camp?

Things are looking a little grim. We are a year-round nonprofit dedicated to our summer camp programming. We spend the entire year planning, preparing, fundraising, producing, hosting and then evaluating our programs. So much of that work will now need to wait until the summer of 2021. In the past few weeks, we have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Making the decision to close camp was our only choice. We could just keep waiting to see what happens but as many of you know we might not know for months whether camp can happen. Waiting will cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars more.  Money we just don’t have.

What about seasonal/summer staff? Will you be hiring?

We have some of the most amazing summer staff ready for this summer’s camps. Unfortunately, we will not be able to hire anyone given the cancelations. We have already laid off most of our year-round staff as well. Our hope is that we can raise the necessary funds to stay open for the summer of 2021. We would then rehire people once we weather this financial storm and can start planning for the summer of 2021. We know that you like us will be needing camp more than ever in a year and we are committed to doing everything possible to make it happen.  

How will One Heartland weather the economic impact of this decision?

Only with your support. Because the majority of what we do all happens during the summer months canceling camp is going to hit us VERY hard. We are slashing expenses and looking at every line of our budget for possible cuts. If there’s any change stuck between the couch cushions, we’re going to find that too. We will also be closing our Minneapolis office and working remotely and from camp in order to save money as well as social distance. But we really need your support to survive. We will not be able to build camp in 2021 if our experienced team members aren’t able to be with us.

What can I do to help One Heartland survive?

First and foremost, don’t give up hope. We really hope camp will survive this crisis just as we have survived existential threats in the past. Second, keep the camp spirt alive in all the magical ways you know how — connecting and collaborating with your friends and imagining new ways to bring “camp” to the online community. Third, take care of yourself and those around you — Camp is not a place or thing; it’s about our community. We want to see all you on the other side of this crisis, when we trade in our plague masks for wigs and laughter. Finally, if you can afford to make a donation to One Heartland, please give what you can. In return, you will become our personal hero/heroine/otherwise-gendered heroic human and will be able to count yourself among the generous souls who helped save One Heartland at a time of crisis. Your generosity will have a huge impact on our collective future.

Are you offering refunds?

Whether you have already paid for camp, have been waiting for a future date, or are simply supportive of our vision and mission — if you have the means, it is our sincerest hope that you will consider rolling over your payment for next summer’s camps, donating a portion of your registration fee or all of your registration fee if that is an option for you. This is going to be a tough year for us, as we know it will be for you, but we will get through it together.

Depending on how many of you request refunds we may not be able to give them to you right away. Because we have expenses related to summer camp all year round most of the money collected has already been spent. We are busy applying for loans and are hopeful we will have money in the coming weeks.

It is an enormous financial risk, but we have faith that those with the means to do so will help us stay afloat during these challenging times.

How do I request a refund? 

You will be able to request a refund through Please email us and let us know if you would like a full refund, partial refund, or would like to roll over your registration fees for next summer. Once we have the funds and are ready to start processing these requests, we will email parents/caregivers with updates. There’s a lot going on right now — please know that we’re working on it as fast as we can!

What about upcoming automatic payments?

All automatic payments are being cancelled.

Don’t you have a “rainy day fund” or “prudent reserve” for this kind of thing?

One Heartland does not have a rainy-day fund. We have spent our reserves paying down our mortgage on camp. We have a beautiful facility that we have a very small mortgage on. We are currently applying for grants and SBA loans to help us get through this time. Truthfully, without major changes, deep cutbacks, and a generous outpouring of donations, we could only stay operational for a few months on our reserve funds.

Doesn’t One Heartland have cancellation insurance? 

While we do have cancellation insurance for certain situations, our insurance policy does not cover cancellation due to health epidemics or pandemics. We do not expect to receive any funds from insurance as a result of camp being cancelled.

Why cancel now? What is the downside of a “wait and see” approach?

One Heartland is a community of people who spend weeks, months, and in some cases years planning, preparing, building, and creating so that we can come together and experience the most engaging, and vibrant camp on the planet. Given this reality, it is not possible to wait further into the summer. Waiting would only cost the participants, the organization and the various cooperating agencies money and time, though truth be told we did wait as long as we could to make this decision. The time is now.

Will there be a Camp in 2021?

We certainly hope so. We don’t know what the public health situation will be a year from now, or what impact the pandemic will have had by then on our participants, our organization, or the global economy. But, with your continued support, if we can keep the organization afloat then yes, the camp magic will be back in 2021

What will CAMP online look like? 

Now more than ever we need to connect with our camp family. We’re asking everyone to take a few minutes to fill out this survey. That way, we know we’re planning online, arts-based programming that works for you! It is so important to both One Heartland AND Hollywood HEART that we continue to connect, create and celebrate together, even during the toughest times.  THANK YOU Hollywood HEART for making this happen!!

You didn’t answer my question!

We know there are many more questions not answered here. We don’t have all the answers for you. We are feeling our way in the dark here. Feel free to email your unanswered questions to

Together we can get through this and hopefully come out the other side a stronger and more resilient community. Thank you all for the amazing camp memories over the years. It is times like this we can feel so blessed to have those memories as well as a huge group of people we can all call family!

Stay safe

Patrick Kindler

Executive Director One Heartland