After living half my life in Europe and half my life in the U.S., and traveling the world, I find that the same divisive issues we are facing here at home are very similar issues that are dividing people all around the world. We are entering uncharted territory. The world is becoming very small, and the future is unclear and uncertain. We live now in what scholars have called a “condition of globality.” Careers, family life, community activities, and even mental health all depend, to some degree, on our understanding of the astonishing complexities that intertwine all human beings. The ability to “think the world”—its economy, science, technology, politics, and culture—must be a primary aim of all education today.
Now, more than ever, we should teach our children what diversity and inclusion mean, as we will come together more and more, and as borders will be torn down, diversity and inclusion will be the only constant that the future will hold. What does the future look like in a global, diverse and inclusive world? What should our common values be? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves. We should teach the values of sharing and accepting ideas, cultures, and people. We should learn from our mistakes in history, and never repeat those again, when it comes to misunderstanding, conflict, and war. The world needs the next generation to be more tolerant of each other’s views, ideology, and beliefs.
In my humble opinion, I have had an opportunity to interact with and understand different cultures, societies, political, and organizational systems. I was born and raised in a small city, have traveled around the world, have lived half my life on one continent and half on another, have worked with people of all ages, both men and women, with different ethnicities, coming from different backgrounds, different abilities, different disabilities, education and religion. I found out that people are people – it doesn’t matter where you go around the world, we are all the same and want the same things: a better life and a better and fair world with fair opportunities for all, where we can all use our own unique talents to make a contribution to our society.
In order to change the world, we need to start with making a difference in our own communities, in our own circles, and in our own neighborhoods. We will then hope that our work will be noticed by others, and become an example of change for good. If you think you are too small to make a difference in the world remember what Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room.”
It is ultimately up to us how this era will shape up; it is up to us to make the world a better place for all. We are the architects of our own lives and the world.
I think we will ultimately discover more Abundance, Love, Happiness, and Joy, Knowledge and Wisdom, Fulfillment, Acceptance, Understanding, Kindness, in a world where we are all just citizens – World Citizens. If we live in a world without borders, where we are all aware of our global challenges, resources, talents, opportunities, where we all have the humility of knowing that no human is better than another, regardless of where they were born, we will all be World Citizens. I believe that, somewhere in the future, our world will remember our history to say there once were many different countries, where people had many different citizenships, but will be celebrating the present that will brings us all together in safety, prosperity and equality, where everyone regardless of their geographical location, or ability level they will have the opportunity to be Global Citizens, just one citizenship for all people around the world and use their individual talents to continually make the world a better place for all.
I believe the world under the globalization’s three waves of free transfer of goods, ideas, and people has changed. The world has changed incrementally, to the point that each country is seen by its citizens more like a corporation. I believe, in our global world, where people are attracted by the best companies, to the detriment of the mediocre companies, countries are seen in the same light. Better run countries attract more people, to the detriment of those countries that are not run as well. I believe that immigration, ultimately, tells a very simple story. Countries that lose people during these waves of globalization encounter bad leadership, and countries which attracted immigration had good leadership. Ultimately people are punishing their politicians and bad leadership. If globalization and the free transfer of people happen openly, there might be countries left without people, and hopefully, then their politicians and leaders would finally understand the gravity of their actions.
We live in an ever-changing world; globalization and technology change our lives every day. Now more than ever we need to acquire a unique set of skills in order to understand the challenges and problems that we are dealing with on a daily basis. We need to be able to learn from one another, to be open to one another, to accept one another for which we are as human beings first and foremost, instead of where we are from, what language we speak, what talent and abilities we have.
The number one enemy of CHANGE is FEAR. We live in a world where we either drive disruption, or we are changed by it. We tend to FEAR what we don’t know, so we should place ourselves in situations where we constantly push ourselves out of our comfort zone in order to overcome fear. Our comfort zones keep us safe. Outside of our comfort zones, we become vulnerable, and in our vulnerability, the most amazing self-discoveries and amazing accomplishments happen. Only after you step outside of your comfort zone do you begin to change, grow, and transform.
Our generation loves bragging about being single, cutting people off, and not trusting anyone, like that’s an accomplishment. We are stuck in a generation where loyalty is just a tattoo, love is just a quote, and lying is the new truth. We need, more than ever, creative ideas for human development, for education, for teaching and learning values for the sake of our humankind, so we can continue growing in acceptance of one another. We need to be able to teach children how to think, create, and collaborate in teams – diverse teams composed of people of different backgrounds, races and cultures. We can’t predict anymore what college success will look like 10 years from now – the world and our environment are changing so fast, all we can do is give the children the skills they will need in order to succeed.
President & CEO
Kostopulos Dream Foundation
If we are to Reflect on the Past, and Think about the Future, let’s focus on some of the trends of our current times. The human population has reached 7.4 billion, and it is estimated to increase to 11.2 billion by 2100. The environmental effects of human actions have accumulated drastically during this era. For the first time, human-generated environmental change threatens the future of our species, if not the entire planet. The ability of humans to extract more energy and resources from a given area of the earth has decisively increased. Politically, the world has been affected by great political turbulence and wars in which the risk of nuclear confrontation has been present. The global economy has grown faster than ever before in history. More economic growth has occurred in this era than in all previous eras of human history combined. Yet, the ability of economic globalization to deliver better lives for all has been deeply compromised by its contradictions, especially boom and bust cycles and wider social inequality. New technologies of transportation and communication have made it possible not only to link all parts of the world in real time, but also to connect individuals more intimately and inexpensively. Thanks to the new technologies of this era, governments and corporations have acquired unprecedented capacities to intervene in the lives of citizens, the better to observe, document, control, and organize multiple aspects of life. The continued escalation in the costs of military technology and its increasing development has made warfare vastly expensive for all states. Simultaneously, the costs of basic administrative, educational, and welfare services to unprecedented numbers of people have driven many states in the less developed world to the brink of collapse. In the gap between the capacity of states to organize and the growing global instability have come all sorts of terror groups. The race between order and disorder can be observed widely around the world.
The world has become increasingly contradictory and paradoxical. For some, rapid economic growth and globalization have offered opportunities. For others they have meant the destruction of cherished lifeways and ancient traditions. While many people got wealthier, many more experienced declining standards of living, nutrition, and health. The varied and often contradictory impact of change explains why Era Nine has been an era of constant military, political, and cultural conflict.
If you travel the world, you will find these trends to be true. If you go to Hawaii, you will find that the locals feel they are the minority now, and all their cherished culture is being lost. Many other parts of the world deal with similar problems. In Australia and New Zealand, the housing market is becoming increasingly out of reach for the locals, due to the foreign direct investments. This is true to many other parts of the world. There are many imbalances being built left and right. Inequality is a topic that scholars have discussed for many years now, and warned that something will have to give and change. Unfortunately, the trend has not skipped a beat.
One other important event of our times occurred 25 years ago in Europe: The Fall of the Berlin Wall. We still deal with its aftermath. I will reference my personal perspective on the change in Central-Eastern Europe in 1989, from socialism to capitalism. There is a huge difference between the two systems. One of my friends, a world renowned economist, put it metaphorically: the difference between socialism and capitalism is similar to the difference between a Zoo and a Jungle. He associates socialism with a Zoo, because socialism is concerned with redistributing resources from the rich to the poor to ensure everyone has both equal opportunities and equal outcomes – there are nice, tall, safe walls to protect everyone. Everyone has a house, food, education, jobs, and doctors. However, capitalism is like a Jungle. Capitalism is unconcerned with equality. It is argued that inequality is essential to encourage innovation and economic development. In capitalism, only the best, most driven, most powerful survive. The vicious instincts of survival lead our economies, creating an unforgiving economic environment. Well, a wild animal was born in, or that has lived for many years or a lifetime, in a Zoo, has a very low survival rate if taken back to the wild. In 1989, when our world realities tore down the socialistic systems in Central-Eastern Europe, nobody warned the millions of people living behind the walls of socialism that capitalism is coming, and that it is very different. No one helped them get educated and trained ahead of time, to survive and succeed in the new system. They simply tore down the walls. When the wall came down, the capitalistic instincts entered that part of the world. Well-trained, capitalistic driven businessman, unfortunately, left behind a generation that suffered the consequences of a very sudden change. I believe the next generations should learn that abrupt changes in any political and economic systems require lots of preparation, so that we instill the least amount of damage to people that are being affected by that change. However, I believe that now, 25 years since the change in the political and economic system in Central-Eastern Europe, people finally understand capitalism. They are ready to embrace its values, and create their own future, and not rely on a future that was promised to them 25 years ago.
I hope that we learn from our own mistakes in history as a society, and continually make the world a better and fair place for all. I believe we have come very long way as humans. We now need to learn from each other, share values, and teach the skills and values that we need in today’s world in order to succeed.
As globalization happens, I believe we should listen to each other’s views, values, cultures, and ideas. We should share those freely, and not try to force our own ideas, views, values upon people. I believe we need to find value in both sides, and understand each other. We must not rule out other people’s views before even having an opportunity to hear them out. I believe we can make friends, and not enemies, by listening to and sharing those values and views. I believe that people can forget what we say, people sometimes forget what we do, but people will never forget how we make them feel. That’s how we should build relationships and friendships, by making people feel valued, respected and supported.
We live in a very complicated world; the acceleration of globalization has changed everything. First we had the free movement of goods, then ideas, and now the free exchange of people; however the momentum may stop at the free exchange of people. Bill Clinton once called globalization “the economic equivalent of a force of nature, like wind or water”. Globalization is powerful, but can be inconstant or even destructive. Moving goods became cheap over time; however until the very end of the 20th century, moving ideas was expensive. Before the invention of the internet, an international call was $5 per minute, or in many cases, more. Since the 1990s, globalization has changed radically, as the internet has lifted the cost of moving ideas, and fueled the second wave of globalization.
Technology has changed everything around us and is constantly changing everything. One thing is certain, not even the future is what it used to be. In January, I travelled the world to find talented people who can join our team this summer to provide amazing services to our campers and students at Camp K. We live in a very diverse and interconnected world, people have moved around in the world, in search for new opportunities, new dreams, a better life, new adventures, love, new beginnings. Others have moved around for education opportunities, work, or simply out of curiosity. We live in a global world. In all the cities I travelled to, London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Auckland, Washington D.C., Edinburgh, Warsaw, Manchester, Amsterdam, Krakow, Bucharest, San Francisco and others, I found a very diverse population, from all corners of the world, speaking all sort of languages, representing all different cultures. In my opinion it will be impossible to stop globalization’s third wave, the free movement of people.
We need to learn how to live, work, and play in the new, diverse, and inclusive world. We need to teach values that inspire, respect and support all across the board, as our neighbors, co-workers, and friends will be of diverse backgrounds. It is going to be very hard if not impossible to reverse globalization. Recently we have heard stories of immigrants being deported, after many years living in our country. After they go home, they find that their country has changed dramatically, and the lives they once cherished and enjoyed are no longer there. They became strangers in what used to be their lives. They took a leap of faith, dedicated to this country, worked to build a new life, embraced our values, and now when they are forced to go back the lives they left behind, but are no longer there for them. It is another tragedy of our times.
The curse of an immigrant is that somehow they belong to two worlds. They left behind a life they cherished and now they live a new life in a new world. They embrace the values of the new world, however, somehow they always keep those cherished memories with them from the former life they lived in the other country. I think that is because we tend to forget bad memories and only keep good memories, so we can’t remember all the hardships, but only the happy times. Some go back to their birth countries often, some go once every so often, and some never do. Each time they go, they realize they are now just a tourist, a visitor. The more time goes by, the more the life they left behind is no longer there. If ones think that, after living for so long in a different country, it is easy to return to the old country, they are wrong. Many immigrants in today’s world deal with this paradigm. I find stories everywhere I go. In Auckland, New Zealand I met a guy who left London a decade ago, married and had a child in New Zealand with a local citizen. During this time, he didn’t go home much, however now he was melancholic towards going back home, and is thinking he will move back. I think he will find a different London today than what he left behind a decade ago. Recently, I read about a story of an immigrant from India, a high-level executive engineer, working at Google in San Francisco for over a decade now. She had an amazing job, in her own words, she “got to travel all over the world, attended conferences, it was great; the team was great; it was a really good job”. However, in our current fast-paced, busy society, she felt lonely. She was part of all kinds of social clubs, and attended many parties; however she still felt lonely, and decided to move back to India, because she was becoming sadder and sadder. She felt exhausted from living in San Francisco. It is a paradox of our society; we keep ourselves extremely busy so we don’t have time to face our realities, and emotions. She left U.S. for India, for “less pay, but more … everything”, in her own words. Her advice for U.S immigrants is “don’t torture yourself” but “to trust your gut”. It will tell you if the U.S. is your true home, or if “it’s not your destiny”. Again, I believe these feelings are felt all over the world as globalization accelerates.
Recently I read an article that was based on a recent poll that concluded that we need to add one more thing to the list of things dividing left and right in our country: that we can’t agree what it means to be an American. A new survey found that Republicans are far more likely to cite a culture grounded in Christian beliefs and the traditions of early European immigrants as essential to U.S. identity. Democrats are more apt to point to our country’s history of mixing of people from around the globe, and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted. Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies partisanship and polling, said the results reflect long-standing differences in the U.S. between one camp’s desire for openness and diversity, and another’s vision of the country grounded in the white, English-speaking, Protestant traditions of its early settlers.
The latest study to assess happiness found that U.S. has dropped one more spot in the rankings around the world. We are now number 14, with Norway taking first place. As a matter of fact, 4 out of the first 5 countries are Northern European countries. The study, which measures social factors alongside economic data, points to the limitations of financial factors in achieving happiness. “This report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which produced the report in association with United Nations.
“The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the ‘American dream’ and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it. But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach,” said Sachs, in a section of the report entitled “Restoring American Happiness”. “The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America’s multi-faceted social crisis— rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis.”
President & CEO
Kostopulos Dream Foundation
Are we better together, or are we better alone? A look at the Old World Map shows one supercontinent, Pangea. A look at the New World Map shows the one supercontinent broken into several continents. The continental drift began about 175 million years ago. Although continents are still separated in our current times, people are coming together, faster than any other times in human history, forming a new world, a diverse and inclusive world. Of course, this is possible due to all current technological advances in every industry such as transportation and communication. Although many questions have been answered through the knowledge we accumulated over time as humans, many questions still await answers. I believe the more we come together, the more we build a safer and better world for all, built on mutual understanding, compassion, and respect. Coming together will help us learn from each other, grow in acceptance, and find common values.
We are living at the dawn of a New Era, we are all feeling it and know it, there are big changes happening all around us. We haven’t named it yet, as we are still deciding what kind of an Era this will be, how long or how short it will be, and most importantly, how will this time in history be remembered. Will this Era be the first in Humankind History, without global wars and conflict? Will this Era be the first to be remembered as the Era of Acceptance, Understanding, Selflessness, Honesty, Kindness and Collaboration? We live in amazing times. We live at the border between the past and the future of humankind. This is OUR TIME, and we have the power to shape how we will be remembered by the next generations. We need to ask ourselves how we want our children and the children of our children to remember us.
According to The World History for Us All, a project of the National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA in cooperation with San Diego State University, there are nine Big Eras that address history on the scale of humankind. They are not limited to a particular region or civilization. Each Big Era deals with a chronological period on the global scale. Each successive period is shorter than the previous one. First Era considers the very long epoch of history up to the emergence of Homo sapiens, and spans from 13 Billion to 200,000 years ago and it’s named “Humans in the Universe”. Second Era, named “Human Beings almost Everywhere”, spans from 200,000 to 10,000 years ago. Third Era, named “Farming and the Emergence of Complex Societies” spans from 10,000 to 1,000 Before the Common Era. Fourth Era, named “Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter” spans from the year 1,200 Before the Common Era to year 500 Common Era. Fifth Era, named “Patterns of Interregional Unity” spans from the year 300 to 1,500 Common Era. Sixth Era, named “The Great Global Convergence” spans from the year 1,400 to 1,800 Common Era. Seventh Era, named “Industrialization and its consequences” spans from 1750 to 1914 Common Era. Eighth Era, named “A Half Century of Crisis” spans from 1900 to 1950 Common Era and Ninth Era, is concerned with second half of the twentieth century and the dawn of the twenty-first, from 1945 to present and it’s named “Paradoxes of Global Acceleration”. Study of all nine eras is designed for exploring the past on several scales of time, space, and subject matter.
The world has changed continually ever since the beginning, however recently the speed of the change has increased exponentially. Innovation rates are now increasingly more rapidly than ever before. The only constant in the world today is CHANGE. We are now bombarded every day with information, and sometimes it is very hard for our brains to digest fast enough the information we receive. We live in an era of technological leaps that roll out at the speed of light, in every industry. I think, to some degree, technology is developing far faster than we are developing as human beings and that leaves us with a sense that, somehow, we are left behind, at times. The more we feel left behind, the more we feel overwhelmed, depressed, unhappy, and insecure about the future. Although technology is supposed to make our lives better, technology can also make our lives feel emptier.
We are human beings, and today’s world feels like a quest for extraordinary. And if extraordinary is not achieved, that leaves us with an empty feeling. Somehow an ordinary life became synonymous with a meaningless life. We somehow forgot that the ordinary moments in our lives are the ones that make us most happy, bring us most joy. Furthermore, knowledge and technology helped answer many questions so far, however there are many questions we still don’t have answers to. In the past, we used faith to believe in something we didn’t understand. Faith gave us comfort. Faith also makes us vulnerable, so if we abandon faith because we want certainty, we abandon vulnerability. Faith without vulnerability leaves us with extremism.
We live in a very complex world; we live very fast paced lives. We are not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in the current environment we created, and with that we are not allowing ourselves to feel happiness or joy, as we fear those feelings will go by too quickly, and something bad will happen next. It is almost like we feel guilty for feeling happiness or joy. We live in an unforgiving world, and we are not allowing ourselves to feel any emotions. Instead, we are numbing our vulnerability. We are the most addicted, medicated, obese, and indebted adult cohort in human history. Adults are in crisis, and so are our children – Mental Health Crisis, Physical Health Crisis, Addiction Crisis, Behavior Crisis, Character Crisis, Stress & Insomnia, Self-Harm & Suicide, and the list can go on. We need to find new ways to educate the next generation about life and values so they can be successful in the extremely challenging times we live in today. What kinds of skills will we need in today’s world in order to live successful lives?
President & CEO
Kostopulos Dream Foundation
What is SUCCESS? For some reason, the word “success” is one of the most important and used words in the world. Success describes the results of every simple activity we do on a small scale, and on a larger scale, describes our lives as a whole. Although there are over seven billion definitions of success, basically every single person on the planet has their own definition for success. We all agree to understand what success means when we talk about it. There are no two people the same on this planet, every single one of us has very different paths to learning and to experiencing life. Therefore, we all see and feel the world through our own lenses. The more we travel the world, and the more we get in contact with people from different backgrounds, we understand how small we really are as individuals. We all walk through life differently – however, all of us would like to say in the end that we lived a successful life. Success, again, might have different meanings to all of us.
In my humble opinion, being born and raised in a small city, having traveled around the world, having lived half my life on one continent and half on another, the differences that we make that count are the ones made in our own communities, in our own circles, in our own neighborhoods. I was blessed, at a young age, to have the opportunity to be around people with special needs and disabilities. That gave me such a deep understanding of our purpose in this world. We all come from different backgrounds and different beliefs. We all have different abilities, and we all wish for different things. However, we all want to make a difference, to leave our mark on society. We all want to make our parents proud. Well . . . people with special needs and disabilities are no different. They want the same things we all do. All people who have become successful in this life, at some point or another, they had someone believe in them, they had someone tell them they are amazing, and that they will accomplish great things. That is the seed of success. That was a seed planted in those individuals by someone, be it a parent, a coach, a teacher or somebody else. People with special needs and disabilities are no different, they want to be successful, they want to participate, they want to make their parents and communities proud – just like all of us. Unfortunately, our societies have not always been very supportive of them. It seems that we are afraid of what we don’t know. I invite and challenge you to stop being afraid. Please get involved, and be the change you would like to see in the world! Plant a seed of confidence, and support in the lives of people with special needs and disabilities. Believe in them, and they will surprise you by what they will be able to do. If you don’t know where to start, start with us here at Camp K: become a volunteer, become a supporter, and you will start seeing the world with different eyes. It will be like the stage of life has pulled the curtains, and the show is just starting. We are launching several new programs here at Camp K, where children without disabilities will interact with children who have disabilities, so that they understand at an early age that we not all that different. We should play, interact and help each other out – regardless of our abilities.
I have lived a blessed life. I am extremely grateful and thankful for all the enriching experiences and opportunities that I have had so far. They all molded me into what I am today. I have worked for a foundation that inspires support, confidence, and inclusion. A place that searches past our looks, and reaches deep inside into our souls to challenge us to become better people. Over the years, we have hired thousands of employees, we have had thousands of volunteers. I promise you, some of the deepest and most inspirational moments in their lives have been while serving at Camp K. It has been an honor and privilege to have worked for Camp K all these years. It reminds me every day of all the good we have in the world. I have said this before, and I will say it again: people with disabilities are amazing people, when it comes to kindness, honesty, bravery, selflessness and understanding we have a lot to learn from them. So please don’t be afraid. Get involved! And I promise you, it will change your life.
Last Friday, I was invited by the Romanian Ambassador to the United States, George Maior, to welcome the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis and the First Lady Carmen Iohannis for their first visit to Washington DC with the Romanian community. It was such an honor and privilege to welcome them, to meet them, and to represent Camp K and our State of Utah to DC. I can say the First Lady is a very warm person, and wanted to learn more about our state of Utah. I have dedicated my life to service, and I appreciate all people who dedicate their lives to service of others. Although there are not many ethnics from Romania who live in Utah, I know Utah has a lot of love and appreciation for Romania. Many Utah residents have served an LDS mission in Romania during the last 25 years. I know our Attorney General, Sean Reyes who serves on our Advisory Board, has appreciation for Romania because his wife served a mission over there. So did the son-in-law of our Governor, Gary Herbert. And, very important for me, one of my dear friends and mentors, also a member of our Advisory Board, Clark Ivory now serves as the President of the LDS Mission in Romania. I will take this opportunity to thank him for his service to the people of Romania! Thank you Clark and Christine for your service and dedication!
I have lived in Utah now for over fifteen years, and I love our state. I love our people, and our culture. We certainly live in one of the best places on earth. I have worked and served all these years at Camp K. I love our community, and I am extremely grateful for such a dedicated community towards service. Camp K is so great because of the community we live in. I will take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers, supporters, board members and donors!
A couple of weeks ago I was at a function and one of my friends, Lew Cramer, former President and CEO of World Trade Center, currently the President and CEO of Coldwell Banker’s said something very flattering. He turned to me and Mike, our COO, who’s been serving at Camp K for over 10 years and said: “You two are the best imports to Utah since Stockton and Malone”. I appreciate Lew very much for his very kind words!
I will end this post by thanking our staff for all their dedication to our most amazing students. Finally, I would like to thank our students, and their respective families, for putting their trust in us to provide them with our programs as we strive to have an impact on their lives.
As summer camp comes to a close, I would like to reflect on what we have accomplished so far here at the camp this season. With 4 weeks of summer camp left, we have served a record of 700 campers so far. Our campers represent all ages and all abilities; they come from different socio-economic backgrounds and geographical areas. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and special needs through education, recreation and growth experiences which promote personal growth and foster independence.
Last week, Don Hudson of ABC4, came to camp and interviewed our campers. He asked me at the end of our visit, “What moves you here at the camp?” In February, Utah Business presented me with the “Forty Under 40” recognition and asked, “Who is your hero”?
My heroes are all of the campers we serve here at the camp. I get my inspiration from all the wonderful campers who, despite their challenges, go through life with courage, determination, and love. I learn so much from our campers. They are the ones who move me every day.
I will share with you today a story, the story of Jullian. Jullian has NeuroFibromatosis (NF), a disorder that affects 1 in 3,000 babies. Today, Julian is 20 years old. He has been coming to Camp K for about 10 years. Several of our campers with NF come from communities where there are not many other children with NF; so they have to endure a lot of misunderstanding, bullying and hardship because of this situation. When they come to Camp K, there is a good chance that it is the first time they get to meet somebody else who has the same disorder as they have. Our NF campers come from all parts of the world. Jullian is from Canada.
NF is a disorder that causes the growth of tumors at the end of nerve cells. They can grow anywhere in the body, inside or outside, on the skin. Most of the children have several surgeries in order to remove the tumors, depending where the tumors grow. Jullian has been coming to camp every year where he feels loved, accepted, normal and independent. When I met him the first time, I couldn’t tell that he had a disability. As the years went by, he came to camp in a leg brace. Two years ago, when I picked him up at the airport, he was in a wheelchair. Every year, he comes joyous and excited to do all the activities at Camp K, where there are no limits. At Camp K everybody “can”, there is no “can’t”.
Two years ago, Jullian’s mom came with him to Salt Lake City. At the end of the week, she came into my office to thank me, and to tell me that right after camp he will go home to have another surgery. She started crying. She said, “Julian will have his leg amputated.” Julian missed camp last summer due to his recovery, but I was so excited to see that he was going to join us again this summer to enjoy everything Camp K has to offer: joy, independence, friends, understanding. Julian came to camp last week, and what an amazing week he had. He was able to participate in all the amazing activities that we have here at the camp. We were so amazed to see him climb the ropes course and the climbing wall, ride the horses and go swimming. Please watch this short video to see Jullian. You can also see pictures from our NF Camp last week here.
Jullian is my hero; he is an inspiration to me. When I asked him last week, how many surgeries he had so far, he responded: “8 or 10, I lost count Mircea, it doesn’t matter”. He is an amazing human being who we have so much to learn from.
Please watch this video from Madeline to sum up in 30 seconds last week of camp.
Disability is the number one cause for poverty. More than 50% of our population comes from families making less than $25,000 per year. We work really hard so we can provide scholarships to make our services available to all. I would love to ask you to join us in support of our mission as we continue providing great services to people like Julian. This is Camp K.
Mircea Divricean, President & CEO of Camp Kostopulos, discusses helping disabled children and adults with recreational therapy.
Summer Camp has arrived! We are three weeks into it and we served close to 250 campers already. Many happy laughs, smiles and unforgettable moments have been shared already here at Camp K. Success stories are created every day. As I said many times, at Camp K there is no ”can’t”, at Camp K everyone “CAN”. It is our firm belief that everybody with trust, encouragement, support and the right attitude can do anything that they want, or are set to accomplish. People with disabilities grow up being told along the way that they can’t or won’t be able to do certain things, however, they have proved wrong many scientists and doctors in showing them that they can do those things. Our philosophy here at Camp K is to encourage, motivate, grow self-esteem, build self-confidence and self-control, teach persistence, flexibility and adaptability, we instigate curiosity and initiative, and foster communication and collaboration in order to build a “Can Do” attitude. The world is full of excuses. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what has happened to you. At the end of the day you choose your actions, and how you treat others.
Summer camp is an opportunity for children to be exposed to the best of human character. Camp K would not be possible unless every year we would find carefully selected role models dedicated to showing your children how to have fun, learn from others, and make friends in person rather than online. Camp allows kids to meet people with different abilities, from different places, different races, cultures and socioeconomic levels. Camp K staff is coming from all over the country and the world. This year, we have staff from 18 different states and two European countries. I am very proud and humble to have such a diverse team. The number one quality that they have is integrity. They are honest and trustworthy, they are here at Camp K willing to sacrifice and serve. They see work as a cause – as a way to change the world and dedicate themselves to social change – rather seeing it as just a way to get a paycheck.
Our team is comprised of 99% Millennials. There has been a lot of talk about Millennials. What should we expect from them? Are they hard workers? Do they care about their communities? Do they care about social impact? After working with them I can tell you that we have nothing to worry about. They are hard workers, with the intention of doing good, focused on solving problems and helping people rebound more effectively from them. They are dedicated team players that care deeply for their communities and social impact. As more Millennials will enter the workforce they will challenge the status quo which is what we need in order to foster great leadership. They are very concerned with our political system, education system, and very interested to bring social change.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing staff this summer for their sacrifice and dedication to a higher purpose than themselves. They are all amazing! Thank you!
On Saturday, one of my friends, Cindie, invited me to spend an evening with Carly Fiorina, Presidential Candidate and Former CEO of Hewlett Packard. She delivered an inspirational speech. She talked about the key ingredients in people’s success – which are the same skills we foster here at Camp K. She said that at the beginning of her career, while she was a secretary for a small real estate business, somebody noticed her hard work and dedication, and promoted her. Somebody believed in her. That was all she needed in order to catapult her onto a great career path. That is all we need, for somebody to believe in us. That ultimately gives us wings to fly. She said that she believes we are all equal, and we can achieve anything we want with hard work and dedication.
I had the honor of sitting at the same table with Carly Fiorina, and I had a very good conversation with her. She said that the best leadership quality one can have is to question the status quo. I agree with her 100%. The only way that we can bring change is to question the status quo. We do that here at Camp K with all of our participants. Like I mentioned in the beginning, there is no “can’t” here at the camp. Both our staff and participants are challenged to learn valuable life, social, and “21st Century” skills, including self-confidence, self-control, persistence, flexibility, adaptability, curiosity, initiative, communication, and collaboration. At the end of the evening, I wished good luck to Carly on her journey to become the next President of the United States of America; she said help is better than luck. She is right – we all need help in order to achieve great things in life!
Here at Camp K, we believe in both our staff and in our participants, and we provide them with the help that they need to succeed. We believe that they can achieve great things. Although it is not always easy, they rise to the challenge, and achieve amazing things. We have endless inspirational stories from both our staff and campers. For example a recent story comes from Rachel, Ryder’s mom. She said “Ryder loves his horseback riding lessons. He is Autistic and since he has been riding, he started singing while in the horse saddle. He is now starting to say words. Something magical happens when he’s on his horse. Taylor, his instructor, is phenomenal and is wonderful with children. I can’t sing high enough praises. We will bring Ryder for lessons for as long as we can. I love Camp Kostopulos. Its God sent.”
Another note I received from DeSean’s mom: “I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again for the AWESOME adventure day at Camp K!!!!! Our group had a day we will remember for a very long time. As we were driving home DeSean said, “I wish everyday could be Camp K day!!!!”
Finally this note comes from Carol, Marti’s mom: “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Marti had one of the best weeks ever at Camp K and cannot stop talking about it. There were so many parts that were new for the staff and they handled it all very well. She is looking forward to coming back.”
In the last 50 years, our society has not done enough for people with disabilities and special needs. 50 years ago, Dan Kostopulos noticed that the people with disabilities are marginalized in our community, and didn’t have opportunities to learn and grow like we do. 50 years later, we have barely scratched the surface in regards to what we need to do for people with disabilities, in order to unlock their full potential to live meaningful lives and to be active contributors to our society. UNICEF released the most recent statistics, and over 1 billion people in the world live with a form of a disability. Disability is number one cause for poverty. Until we provide them with the tools they need, help them to develop skills in order to have jobs and contribute to our society, we are missing a huge untapped potential. Camp K now is more relevant than ever before. Camp K is not the cause – children are the cause. Camp K is the solution.
In the past all talent was directed to for-profit corporations. I believe that, as more Millennials enter the workforce with the intention of doing good, the nonprofit sector will be a magnet for top talent, creating a pipeline of future leaders who are skilled at integrating social and environmental goals with the bottom line. I also believe we will be more diverse than ever, not just in terms of women and minorities in leadership positions, but in terms of inclusion. I am very hopeful that we will find solutions to bring forward the untapped potential of people with disabilities and have them be active contributors to our society. This will have a huge impact on saving taxpayer money, and solving Medicaid and Medicare budgetary issues.
We have worked very hard here at Camp K in the last 50 years to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and special needs through recreation, education, and growth opportunities. We have come a long way since the first summer camp. At that time, there were no paid camp workers, and all of the food was donated. Volunteers and parents used private automobiles to transport participants daily. The volunteers were at great insurance risk transporting campers to and from the camp site in their private vehicles. The camp had a station wagon that served as the vehicle that would gather up supplies, and to take the campers to a nearby swimming pool at the VA Hospital. The campers traveled back to their homes each evening after camp. However, one night each week, they slept overnight, outdoors on the campground’s hard ground. Some of the participants needed to be carried to different activities. The food was prepared at a volunteer’s house each night, and transported to camp each morning. There are no appropriate words to give thanks and express the depth of gratitude to those volunteers who gave up their summer to help. From those humble beginnings, we have built beautiful facilities, we now have great staff and volunteers to help further the dream and vision of one man: Dan Kostopulos.
You might be tempted to say: We did it, we are done with our work. I say: No, my friends, we have more work to do – hard work, uncertain work and unending work, work that may test us, work that may defeat us, work for which we may not get credit for, but work for which our participants and our whole community depends on. Because we live in a very fast paced technological world, the time is short and the odds are long. But I believe we are ready nonetheless, with the love of those who raised us, with the lessons of those who taught us, with the strength of those who stand beside us as we face what lies ahead.
My leadership philosophy can be summed up in one quote by Paulo Coelho: The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. I say: Let us begin!
Mircea Divricean, President and CEO, speaks about the impact that Camp K has on the lives of our campers, and in the Community.
The Kostopulos Dream Foundation has gone through many changes and additions in the past forty years; however, our mission statement still reflects the original vision of the founding members. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through education, recreation and growth opportunities. Our goal is to make our services available to all people, regardless of ability level, gender, sexual persuasion, ethnic background, income, or place of residence. With the continued support of the community and donors, we will keep the original dream alive. Together We Dream, Together We Do!
On May 1st, we hosted our Annual “Send a Kid to Camp” Gala, and it was a tremendous success! Thanks to all of our staff, Board of Directors, sponsors, and community for supporting this event. This was the best Gala we have had – and we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you!
Congratulations to the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, the 2015 recipient of Camp K’s Children’s Humanitarian Award. We are very grateful for the support that they have provided to Camp K, and to our entire community.
This year, Camp K started a new tradition. Every year we will choose an Ambassador who will represent our agency. This year, our Ambassador is Celina. She has Cerebral Palsy, and has been coming to Camp K for several years. Her mom told us that Camp K has given Celina a rewarding environment in which to grow, and has helped her find herself. Celina said, “When I come to Camp, I feel like I have no wheelchair.” You can watch her speech, as well as the other speakers here.
Photos from the Gala can be seen on our Facebook page. A new video was created for our Gala, and we are proud to share it with everyone. Please click here to watch the video.
We are looking forward to Summer Camp, which starts on June 1st. Training for our new summer staff started this week. Counselors from all over the country joined us to put together the best summer camp experience our campers enjoyed so far. We look forward to welcoming our campers for another awesome summer.
Over the years, we have had a lot of amazing staff who worked at Camp K. I cannot say enough about all the staff who have worked so hard since the beginning of this camp. They come to work each day with a desire to make a difference in someone’s life.
Camp K would not be what it is today without all the volunteers that have given uncounted hours of service to our agency. After volunteering with our participants, they go away with a new outlook on life. They learn to accept people, regardless of their differences and, to their surprise, actually find that they have learned more from our participants than anything else. All of our volunteers learn that service to others brings balance in all of our lives.
Since the beginning of camp, many Board Members have been the stewards and supporters of Camp K. They deserve to be applauded for their work. They contribute their time, financial means, resources, and expertise. In addition to these volunteers, thanks go out to our friends, family, business partners, other partner agencies, and all those who have given in so many ways to support and make possible each growing, successful year at Camp K.
During my tenure with KDF, I have seen firsthand the impact that our services have on both the population we serve and their respective families. When appointed as the President and CEO, I said “it is my commitment to make our services available to new populations in an effort to provide them with experiences developed to enhance their lives. My personal goal is to create a nonprofit organization that is best in class, and one that provides a benchmark to other nonprofit organizations that serve the special needs population. My personal aspiration is that other organizations will pay it forward, further develop a successful nonprofit model, and share their learnings, so that together we continue to serve our communities around the world.”
I am proud to say that this year, we will host two weeks of camp for children with Muscular Dystrophy, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy Association. We will are also provide seven weeks of Partner Day Camp for children without disabilities. Part of our mission is to provide education about people with disabilities and special needs to the general population. Our partner camps will do just that. Our campers with disabilities now have the opportunity to share camp with their non-disabled siblings. We feel really good about this new opportunity for parents who have children with and without disabilities to be able to bring their children to the same camp.
Kids without disabilities who attend our partner camps will be sharing our facilities with our campers who have cognitive and physical disabilities. They will learn that people with disabilities are just like them – they just have different challenges and abilities! Everyone loves to have fun, learn, and play!
We have partnered with many great organizations to provide a 2-in-1 camping experience for kids in elementary school, without special needs. We believe in inclusion, and want all members of the community to have the opportunity to come to Camp K! At our partner camps, the kids spend half their time at the community partner’s facility (art schools, museums, gardens, universities, and more), and half their time at Camp K participating in outdoor learning adventures and nature education. We switch sites in the middle of the day so that the campers can get the best of both worlds! Our partners for this summer are Natural History Museum, Red Butte Gardens, Tanner Dance, University of Utah Youth Education and Bad Dog Arts.
We have some great events coming up. First is a VIP Dinner and Concert with Scott Helmer on May 29th. For a limited time only, we are running a special promotion where you can get 2 tickets for the price of 1!Dinner and Social hour begins at 5:30 pm, and will be provided by Red Rock Brewery. Beer, wine, soda, and water are included. To purchase tickets: www.campk.org/concert
On May 30, we will host our Annual Family Fun Day and Concert in the Canyon. Bring your families to participate in the activities that Camp K offers. Scott Helmer is coming to Camp K again this year, as a part of his “Support Your Cause” Tour, where he is helping charities raise $1 million. More information is available on our website, at www.campk.org/family-fun-day
“Together we dream, together we do.”
President and CEO
Our President and CEO, Mircea Divricean, was featured in the American Camp Association’s Southwest Newsletter in April.
It Takes A Village!
Mircea has a conviction for leading innovative partnerships to build a sustainable, collective social impact in our community – and Mircea is here to do just that for the Southwest Local Council of Leaders. Mircea is dedicated to the mission of ACA and wants nothing more than to be one of the many building blocks that are coming together to grow the strength and presence of the Southwest Local Office. He is committed to helping grow the membership of the Southwest through networking, events, and communication.
Mircea knows that it takes a village to truly get things done! Are you interested in helping Mircea bring on more members of our great organization? The more Individual Members, Member Camps, and Accredited Camps that we can bring in to the ACA the more opportunities we can offer for our community through the camp experience, professional development, and member resources.
Click here for the full newsletter.
Spring has arrived here at Camp K, and there is a lot for us to look forward to!
We are proud to announce that we have been Accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) again in 2015. This accreditation is evidence of our commitment to remaining in compliance with the ACA’s standards for health, safety, and risk management. I am honored to serve as the Southwest Membership Chair for the ACA. This month, I am honored to be featured in their newsletter, as “It Takes a Village” to build a sustainable, collective social impact in our community.
We are gearing up for an exciting Summer Camp Season, where we will build lasting relationships, stretch our imagination, challenge our potential, and create unforgettable memories. We are preparing our property and facilities, hiring and training staff, registering wonderful campers, and creating new activities.
Recently, we received an email from a former camper, Ashley Vacanti, which reminded us how important Camp K is in the lives of our campers. She said, “When I went to Camp Kostopulos for the NF Week several years in a row, it changed my life for the better. I found myself and became a confident person and along the way I made a lot of friends and I’m still friends with some of those people today. So thankful Camp K exists!”
We still have openings for Summer Camp positions. Jobs include assistant program coordinators, camp counselors, group leaders, lifeguards, cooks, nurses, and support staff. If you know anybody who is interested in a summer job, working in an environment where they will have the opportunity to change lives and make a difference in our community, please send them to this link: http://www.campk.org/employment/summer-camp
Our signature event of the year is approaching, and we look forward to seeing everyone at our 27th Annual “Send a Kid to Camp” Gala on May 1. This event will be a lot of fun, with entertainment, dinner, and much more. For more information, please visit: www.campk.org/gala
President and CEO
With our summer camp season coming so fast, we are excited to have been awarded our 4th consecutive Safety 1st award for 2014. The award is based on our proven safety record and superior commitment to safety.
As we are gearing up for Summer Camp, we will be hiring over 40 dedicated staff in the next couple of months. Jobs include camp coordinators, camp counselors, group leaders, lifeguards, cooks, nurses, and support staff. If you know anybody who is interested in a summer job, working in an environment where they will have the opportunity to change lives and make a difference in our community, please send them to this link: http://www.campk.org/about/employment/
Camp K is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). I recently attended the ACA National Conference, hosted this year in New Orleans. Attendees from all parts of the country and from around the world got together to learn, discuss trends, network, and get involved in order to make a difference in their communities by bringing more children, youth and adults to camp. We learned about the ACA’s 20/20 vision: to have 20 million children, youth and adults annually enjoy a camping experience by the year 2020. We learned a lot about the role of camp in children’s lives, we learned how children’s first independent experience outside of the family is most likely at camp. We learned a lot about leadership, social impact, social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and how camps are becoming more and more a social educational environment for children in the high tech environment of today.
The world needs the next generation to be more tolerant of each other’s views, ideology, and beliefs. Summer camp is an opportunity for children to be exposed to the best of human character. Carefully selected role models are dedicated to showing your children how to have fun, learn from others, and make friends in person, rather than online. Camp allows kids to meet people with different abilities, from different places, different races, cultures, and socioeconomic levels. The world is full of excuses. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what has happened to you. At the end of the day you choose how you treat others. There is something magical about a summer camp experience. Camp is an independent experience that shapes one’s character and life – a controlled, safe environment where children and youth are able to make their own decisions about simple things (what activity they want to do, how many s’mores they want to make, or what clothes they are going to wear) and about important things (who they will hang out with … who will be their friends). Camp is a place where kids interact with people face-to-face, at the same time learn about themselves and others around a camp fire, under the stars, or sitting around a dining hall table. Camp is a place where children find a world filled with possibilities unavailable to them in everyday life, they can go from fantasy to reality. Camp gives kids a chance to practice being the best they can be. They experience a place designed to create happy memories and encourage self-expression. They have the opportunity to climb towers, ride horses, paddle canoes, and even experience success of winning the “survivor” game! It stays with them forever. Kids will learn a full range of emotions and human experiences including homesickness, friendship, disagreements, team work, frustrations, jubilant success and more.
One of Key Note Speakers was Jessica Lahey, a renowned writer, teacher, and speaker. She told us that, as parents, our hopes and jobs are to ready the kids to be proactive, independent, and capable people – to prepare them to thrive without us. Camp offers a way for kids to start developing those skills in the best possible environment. She also told us that TRUST is very important. If you base your relationship with your children on TRUST, amazing things will happen. Yesterday I was at a training taught by Rick Eigenbrod, a Google executive’s personal coach. He said that you should base your relationship with your employees on TRUST; he said you have to trust your employees to make all kinds of decisions; this is the only way they will be able to grow. It sounds very similar – the way you should treat your children as a parent should be the way a leader treats his team. Allow them to make decisions, good or bad; it is the only way to grow. If ever there was a time when the world needed a generation of future leaders who understood the intricacies of living in a community, having tolerance and being open – that time is now. Camp is a gift that we can give to our children that they will benefit from and remember forever.
“Together we dream, together we do.”
Happy New Year! The beginning of the year brings with it the inherent feeling of a fresh start. It’s both retrospective and hopeful, all in one! As we reflect on our accomplishments from last year, it is important to celebrate and gain momentum from the successes of last year to inspire us for the year ahead.
Camp K is accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA). Last week, I attended the ACA Leadership Summit in Phoenix. We were reminded of the ACA’s vision: Enriching Lives – Changing the World. The ACA theme for this year is: Imagine, Inspire, Impact. The alliteration reminds us of how important the “I” is when it comes to camp. We talk about the importance of community and the ability to come together as a group and make things happen. But the truth is, without the talents and drive of each individual involved, camp wouldn’t be the life-changing experience that it is.
We are looking forward to a successful 2015 Summer Camp, and we are already working diligently to plan for this summer. The success of our Summer Camp relies on the support of our community in making our 2015 Send-A-Kid-To-Camp Gala a success. We provide many scholarships through-out the summer and every single camper receives financial support in order to attend camp. Please mark your calendars for our Gala which will be held on May 1st. More information is available at: www.campk.org/special-events.
I look forward to seeing you there!
“Together we dream, together we do.”
At this festive time of the year, we pause to reflect on 2014. We are grateful for another great year! We would like to thank all of our campers and their families for inspiring us to continue the mission here at Camp K.
We would also like to thank everyone who supports our dream – we are successful because of the support of our community. We are grateful to the individuals and organizations who provide their support to Camp K. We couldn’t do what we do without your help!
We wish you a safe and happy holiday season to you and your families! Our team is looking forward to another amazing year here at Camp K!
“Together we dream, together we do.”
We are both proud grateful to be the first Charity admitted to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. This program was created to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital, and business support services. This gave us the opportunity to become more visible in the community, to work on our strategic plan, and ultimately to make Camp K a better place, not only for our campers, but for our entire community.
The months of August and September were very busy with volunteer groups performing service projects at Camp K. We are grateful to all organizations who have joined us for service projects. These teams have helped us maintain and beautify our 25-acre campus. Their service is invaluable, as it helps us to ensure that our campus is accessible to our campers. Without their help and support, we would not be able to provide the wonderful services we do.
“Together we dream, together we do.”