Jabberwocky’s back!

Scaled-down season will also feature online Jabberwebby.


After a disappointing year for the Jabberwocky community, the beloved organization of friends with and without disabilities will resume in-person camp sessions this summer.

“It’s really exciting to think about seeing everyone again,” Kelsey Cosby, director of outreach for Camp Jabberwocky, told The Times. “We wanted to do something last summer, but obviously that couldn’t happen.”

In order to determine what could be possible for this season, Jabberwocky officials started planning with a medical committee of volunteer doctors and nurses who come to camp in the summer to help out. The committee started meeting regularly in January to come up with an action plan for Jabberwocky during the summer, and eventually decided that in-person camp could be safe, if executed properly.

“Last spring, when the medical committee met, they determined that the camp couldn’t run, so the fact that the committee — who had been in the hospitals and seeing the frontlines of the pandemic — weren’t completely against the idea was actually really promising,” Cosby said.

Camp and medical officials wanted to find a way to provide a fun and safe experience after missing out on so many memories last year. Once vaccines started becoming more widely available to the public, the possibility of in-person camp became more feasible, and plans began to evolve rapidly.

A longtime Jabberwocky counselor who worked for the Centers for Disease Control this past year, Kellen McDonald, is now in the combined school of public health and nursing program at Yale, and is spearheading the camp’s COVID protocols and response program. “[Kellen] is going to be there to make sure everything is running smoothly and safely,” Cosby said.

State guidance released late last month dictated how recreational camps could operate under health restrictions at the time. According to Cosby, those regulations were very detailed, and meant for camps that are admitting unvaccinated children.

Jabberwocky came up with extensive protocols and testing cadences to make the experience safe for older members of the Jabberwocky community, but another set of guidance was released recently that included specific regulations for vaccinated adults.

“Camp is a community of people with and without disabilities, and most of them are over the age of 12. We are going to require anyone participating in camp this summer to be fully vaccinated,” Cosby said.

Each camp session this summer will last a maximum of one week, whereas folks could usually go to Jabberwocky and stay there for up to a month. Additionally, no new volunteer counselors or camp guests will be allowed this year — only those returning from prior years. Anyone who applied for this summer’s camp sessions will have their application considered for 2022.

Even though a week doesn’t seem like it would be as valuable as a month, Cosby said, she is confident that everyone is looking forward to coming back, seeing friends, and making lasting memories.

The Jabberwocky groups are normally around 35 people with disabilities and about the same number of volunteer counselors at a time. This time, groups will be around 12 people with disabilities at most, spread out through the same number of cabins as they would normally be. Cosby said this will allow each camp guest to have plenty of space, and counselors will be able to provide a full and memorable experience during the weeklong camp sessions.

Many activities that Jabberwocky enjoys are already fun outdoor events. The beach outings are still a go, which Cosby said she is “very excited about.”

Although they aren’t planning on putting together their regular large musical production or inviting performers from off-campus, Cosby said, they are still planning to have some theater and music around.

“Maybe one more year of not putting on a play in the way we are used to,” Cosby said, but added that Jabberwebby online camp will still be available for folks who either don’t feel comfortable, or physically can’t attend in-person camp.

Camp officials are looking at ways to put together another virtual Fourth of July parade, similar to the superhero-themed online video compilation they created last year. Cosby added that the camp is working on constructing an outdoor amphitheater, which won’t be finished by the end of this season, but is something to look forward to for upcoming camp sessions.

Last year, Cosby said she was “crushed” that Jabberwocky couldn’t hold in-person camp, although she understood that health regulations made it out of the question. “I obviously wanted everyone to be safe, but it was just the saddest summer. We did virtual programs nearly every day, and it was wonderful to see peoples’ faces, but then you would hang up and be alone in your house again,” Cosby said. “It was a real rollercoaster of feelings each day.”

Now, Cosby said, she is looking forward to reuniting in-person with her friends, watching people interact and laugh, having conversations, hearing stories, and making new memories. “I feel like a lot of people missed out on those memories this past year, so I can’t wait for that,” she said.