Sundance, the two-day Labor Day weekend extravaganza held by CAMP Rehoboth, attracts more than 1,500 people who participate in one or both evening festivities. However, even longtime attendees might be surprised to learn what Sundance represents and the community benefits it supports.
The first Sundance was held on CAMP founders Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald’s 10th anniversary. The couple had enjoyed vacationing in Rehoboth for years, but by 1988, they had seen many friends die from AIDS. Wanting to do something, they created Sundance, conceived as a dance party that would fundraise for AIDS-related charities. Initially, it was a modest event, but it brought the community together in a positive way and raised money for the cause. “At that time, there was no treatment for AIDS at all,” said Archibald. “There was almost no hope at that point. People were dying left and right. The whole community here was devastated, losing so many friends.”
The event was named Sundance because it was planned as a pool party, but rain made partiers move inside to The Strand nightclub on Rehoboth Avenue. That event raised about $6,000. The next year, organizers added an auction, which brought in an additional $3,500. Since then, Sundance has grown with sponsorship from local businesses and individuals, moved to the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, and raised more than $2 million for AIDS organizations and CAMP Rehoboth.
Since its beginning nearly 30 years ago, CAMP (Create A More Positive) Rehoboth has been the catalyst for bringing together diverse parts of the community and providing valuable information and services for all.
In the past year alone, the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center on Baltimore Avenue has hosted cultural exhibits, supplied social service and tourist information, donated community room space to 33 different nonprofits, and served 13,000 people. CAMP provides health and wellness programs ranging from flu shots and physical fitness classes to mental health counseling and support groups. More than 2,000 people were reached by CAMP cultural programs, and 7,500 were provided outreach, education, and advocacy programs in 2017. Nearly 500 volunteers support CAMP Rehoboth’s activities, which include programs at skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, cleanups at Cape Henlopen State Park, Women’s Fest and an array of community service functions. An estimated 5,000 people read each issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, which is published 15 times a year and packed with information on local services, events and activities.
CAMP Rehoboth’s commitment to AIDS prevention has continued to this day, with the opening of new HIV testing centers in Seaford, Laurel, Rehoboth Beach, and two in Georgetown. The group’s Safe Sex Outreach Program reached 5,582 individuals and distributed 82,601 Safe Sex Kits in 2017. Sundance revenues support all this and more.
For many, the annual CAMP Rehoboth Sundance is the highlight of the summer season, and Sundance 2018 – Rainbow XXXI: In the Name of Love will likely set new records. Over the years, the auction has been legendary for its wide array of dazzling and unique items. A banner from a Sotheby’s estate auction of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis items was up for bid one year after being rescued from a trash bin. Another memorable auction item was a poster from the movie “Brokeback Mountain,” signed by the cast.
The dance is known for Paul Turner’s spectacular light effects and DJ/Remixer Joe Gauthreaux’s signature club sound, along with the all-night cocktail buffet and open bar. This year’s addition of the Sundance Disco Twilight Tea with Studio 54/Saint DJ Robbie Leslie will provide an extra hour of fun and allow participants to come early and leave early, come late and leave late, or have one long evening of fun. Sundance is more than just an event; it’s a place to embrace old friends, meet new people, and celebrate community. And a way to support CAMP Rehoboth’s community services and outreach.
The recent loss of beloved Sundance and CAMP Rehoboth co-founder Steve Elkins has given the 2018 Sundance special significance. For more than 25 years, Elkins’ leadership and vision allowed CAMP Rehoboth to become one of the most respected and successful nonprofit organizations in Delaware, and contributed greatly to establishing Rehoboth as a widely recognized community with “room for all.” To honor Elkins, organizers hope to make this a Sundance that Rehoboth will never forget.
Sundance was born from the creative partnership of Elkins and his husband Murray Archibald, and it has become the flagship event for CAMP Rehoboth. “The first Sundance was a 10th anniversary party for us, and we wanted to celebrate by doing something to help our community,” said Archibald. “This would have been our 40th. In the Name of Love we will still celebrate that anniversary – and dance one for Steve.”
Sundance 2018 – Rainbow XXXI: In the Name of Love will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 1 and 2, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Hosts and sponsors are still needed. Through serving as a host or sponsor, companies, organizations, and individuals can gain visibility or promote their business or cause, all while helping CAMP Rehoboth. There are several contribution levels, each with its own rewards and benefits.
For tickets or more information, go to www.eventbrite.com/e/sundance-2018-rainbow-xxxi-in-the-name-of-love-tick....
All proceeds from Sundance benefit CAMP Rehoboth, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, and support the activities and programs it provides to the Rehoboth community.