“George to the Rescue”

Bella Nocera and Kevin Pfundstein

Bella: As someone who grew up with two cousins who have Autism and attended Camp Anchor, I would always hear about what a special place it was. It wasn’t until I actually began volunteering there that I understood just how special this place really was. It was evident to me, from the first day I started working there, that this was a place where the sun was always shining, and everyone was always accepted: a dream world for me. 

Kevin: For me, Camp Anchor has always been a part of my life. My sister had volunteered in the program six years before I even started volunteering. The moment I was able to volunteer, I signed up. Every single day I have spent at camp has been filled with new exciting challenges, but at the end of the day, the feeling of fulfillment and the relationships I have made with my campers never fails to put a smile on my face. 

Summer 2021 was rolling around, and talk began to circulate about our Camp making a national television appearance on the show George to The Rescue. This was a home renovation show, where the host and crew “rescue” individuals who are either somehow disabled, or illness survivors. 

When Gina, our camp’s volunteer coordinator, first asked us to be a part of the episode, it was an immediate yes. We didn’t know exactly what we’d be doing, but sharing our passion for this program is all we could ever ask to do. We knew that the episode would wind up being something very special, and we wanted to be a part of it. 

It started with a Zoom call with the executive producer months before we would even film the episode. We had no idea what this would entail, but we had said yes before we even had a chance to talk to each other about it. During the Zoom call we frantically texted each other freaking out about what we had gotten ourselves into. 

Well, fast forward a month and we found ourselves at Lido Beach with a camera crew in front of us putting microphones on us. The entire interview was completely unscripted. The two of us were grossly unprepared. But with the support of the producer and being able to bounce ideas off each other we managed to talk about Camp Anchor for over an hour. 

Although nervous at first, when we found out the interview was unscripted, it came so naturally for us to talk about our favorite place. Soon after we filmed the episode the summer camp season started, and we pushed the memory of the interview to the back of our minds. The episode would not air for months, and we had no idea what the final product would look like.

Throughout the summer camp season, we would see the camera crew running around getting b-roll shots for the episode and we even got a sneak peak of the final product. We were amazed by the massive mural that was able to encapsulate so many of the special aspects of Anchor. For example, our balloon release that we do at the end of every season, our colorful tents that become our homes for the summer, and our buses where we get transported to our favorite place! The mini golf course in front of the mural was perfect for our campers and we were so excited to see their reactions to this new space. Hours of laughs, smiles, and fond memories were made in the mini golf course this past summer, and more are sure to be made in the future. 

As the summer came to an end we got the final date that the episode would be airing. We could not wait and started counting down the days. 

Seeing the episode come together in the end was really cool, for anyone involved at Anchor, but especially for us considering we were heavily involved in the filming process. NBC did an excellent job not only renovating our handball court, but they did an amazing job bottling up the perfection of our summer home.

 It made us very emotional, in the best way possible, to watch the episode as we felt like we were reliving our happiest summer memories. It made us even more happy to see our favorite place in the world getting the spotlight it deserves, and knowing that millions of viewers would be touched by what we do even just in the slightest. We hope that at least one of the viewers was inspired to get involved with the special needs community in any way!

You can watch the episode of George to the Rescue that perfectly encapsulates our version of Disney World, on Peacock, the NBC app, or the George to the Rescue YouTube channel!