Nobody understands the importance of community like Patty Hillkirk, Founder and Executive Director of Kennett Square-based nonprofit Camp Dreamcatcher. In 1995, Patty had a dream to start a camp for children infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. While other camps for disadvantaged youth and those with serious illnesses existed, Camp Dreamcatcher was and continues to be the only therapeutic camp on the East Coast that offers a physically and emotionally safe environment where children impacted by HIV/AIDS can be themselves, explore new horizons, grow, and thrive. Over 28 years, this one-week camp session has expanded to year-round programs, including a Teen Leadership Retreat, HIV/AIDS education and community outreach, Restorative Practices program, a mentoring program, and an Adopt-A-Family campaign over the holidays.

“I feel extremely lucky to live in a community that has embraced Camp Dreamcatcher with loving kindness and compassion,” says Patty. “More than 200 people from the Southern Chester County area and beyond serve as cabin counselors, health center staff, therapists, and program and recreational volunteers each year.” Simply put, there is no Camp Dreamcatcher without Kennett Square.

During one week in August, children ages 5 – 17 from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York are transported to Camp Saginaw in Chester County to attend Camp Dreamcatcher. For many of these campers, this is their only opportunity to get away from home for a week to have fun. The children enjoy swimming, campfires, hiking, boating, horseback riding, go-kart racing, miniature golfing, and the much-anticipated Talent Show. Beyond the fun activities, the camp also offers the children a chance to express their feelings in a safe, therapeutic environment with the help of professionals in psychotherapy, music/art therapy, yoga, and massage. It’s a week of joy, freedom, and self-expression. Best of all, this one-week camp experience is offered at no cost to campers and their families.

Every year, Camp Dreamcatcher receives hundreds of applications from children hoping to be a part of what has become, for many, a second home. However, the number of campers that can attend is based on the funds that Patty can secure from generous donors and through fundraising campaigns. This results in a waiting list every year, and this year is no different.

In an effort to move more campers from the waiting list into cabins, Patty jumped at an opportunity last year to partner with Over The Edge on a unique and exciting fundraising concept: Recruiting community members to raise funds on behalf of Camp Dreamcatcher for the opportunity to rappel down the tallest building in Kennett Square.

The inaugural Catching Dreams Over The Edge event, held in September 2023, raised over $71,000. Forty-four brave community members transformed into Camp Dreamcatcher Superheroes to descend eight stories down the Franklin Center Building in the heart of Kennett Square. Never one to think small, Patty has set her sights even higher this year to recruit double the number of rappellers for the 2024 Catching Dreams Over The Edge event on September 28th, with a goal of raising $100,000. And with the power of the Kennett Square community behind her, she just might do it.

One trusty sidekick who has already joined the league of Camp Dreamcatcher Superheroes is none other than Kennett Square Borough’s own Chief of Police, William Holdsworth. “I am happy to participate in the Catching Dreams Over The Edge event supporting Camp Dreamcatcher. I look forward to participating as a rappeller in hopes of raising money for such a wonderful organization and cause.”

In addition to thrill-seeking rappellers, Camp Dreamcatcher also relies on the support of community organizations and local businesses through sponsorships. LGB Properties and The Market at Liberty Place will return as the Landing Zone Sponsors for a second year. Geoff Bosley explains, “We love being a part of what Patty has been tirelessly doing for over two decades—helping those who have been affected the most by HIV/AIDS. The work and the countless lives Patty and her crew have touched is truly remarkable!”

Inspired by last year’s Camp Dreamcatcher Superheroes, Patty has decided to face her fear of heights head-on and will go over the edge in September, cementing her role as Camp Dreamcatcher’s fearless leader backed by a strong community.

To learn more about the Catching Dreams Over The Edge event, register to rappel, donate or become a sponsor, please visit: