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Reflecting on 2020

By Aby Ryan, CEO Athena Camps

What a year.

I would like to thank you for supporting Athena Camps. Your enduring presence is providing us the opportunity to move into 2021 with a new found resilience.

This season started off as our best ever and then the pandemic hit. We feared we might have to close our doors permanently. We waited, made hard decisions, planned, worried and waited some more.

Would we have camp this summer?

Masked CoachesOn May 1, the decision was made. Utilizing guidance from Santa Clara County Health Official Sara Cody, we reinvented Athena Camps with pandemic safety at the forefront. Our newly trained young women excelled as leaders, and your girls followed our protocols. Not a case of Covid-19 was had.

We rocked 9 weeks of Athena Camps with 729 campers.  With hand sanitizer and masking tape we created Pods and kept our “helicopter space”. We played tennis, basketball, soccer and volleyball; made art, danced and did yoga with our friends. Safely. And the Athena magic happened – a community filled with affirmations and love was built, new confidence blossomed. Our time together was even more precious as we sensed it could come to an end at any moment. There were tears as the weeks came to a close. “Air Hugs” became our thing.

As we wrapped up in early August, little did we know that this would be some of the last outdoor playtime and social interactions we would experience with our friends. Our schools would open, then close. The pandemic lasting longer than anyone imagined.


As I reflect on 2020, I feel gratitude infused with sorrow; sad for those we missed at Athena Camps and inspired by those who joined us; grief for the sick, lonely and afraid, yet more grateful than ever for our health, friendships and inner peace; heartbroken for our hungry, suffering, and oppressed; determined to learn, give and do more.

This poem by Madeleine Albright sums up what this year has taught me to more diligently strive for:

“she practices the difference between being still and remaining silent.

she demonstrates the difference between being utterly engaged in the moment and busy, b-u-sy BUSY!

her words and what she does are agents of change that she uses with the precision of weaponry and the effectiveness of healing herbs.

she takes note of the opinion of others and guides her path by the illuminating light of her own moon and sun.

she is loved by children and respected by adults.  she is authentic. she is surprisingly funny.

she does what is necessary to answer the demands of her calling.

she is regal.”

I hope you will join me in doing your best to integrate your lessons learned in 2021.

We can’t help but be changed.

2021 Camp Update

We plan to open registration mid-February and will keep you posted as the timing unfolds.

In the meantime, if you want to give Athena Camps as a gift or need to use up your Dependent Care FSA, you can purchase gift certificates on our website.

Along with playing outside and creating unique art, our girls will benefit greatly from the opportunity to re-enter the world of friendships with the assistance of our caring coaches at Athena Camps.

Many of you have credits to use toward future camps.  We look forward to enrolling your daughters when the time is right for your family.  We will reach out in February with more information.

Community Resource

Nicole Connell has created a free resource for pre-teen and teen girls during these challenging times. It’s called the Girls Shine Bright Wisdom Series. Nicole brought together a powerful group of women leaders and teachers to support the strength, confidence, and leadership of our next generation of young women.

Sign up for this empowering free online series here: www.nicoleconnell.com/girls-series


As we look forward to a fresh year with a vaccine and our first Female Vice-President there is much to hope for.

I wish you and your family deep peace and simple joys.

Happy Holidays,


Aby Ryan, Athena Camps, Founder & CEO