“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” ~Billy Graham
Every Moment Matters!
Each year as we recruit volunteers for a week of camp, we talk about the opportunity to make a difference in the life of child. Potential volunteers are often enthusiastic and envision themselves as a camp counselor, happily shepherding their two campers through the week. Truthfully though, many times brand new volunteers spend their first year as support staff while veteran staff serve in the limited number of counselor spots. As I share camp role assignments, I find myself reminding volunteers that every role matters. Truly, everything that campers experience in a week at camp is a collaborative effort, and everyone will have an opportunity to impact the lives of our campers.
This fact was portrayed so beautifully last summer as we began to prepare for camp. One of our staff, Austyn, had served faithfully on the chapel team in previous camps. Our chapel team works tirelessly during the week of camp memorizing and practicing drama scripts, Bible stories, memory verses, and puppet shows. They engage the campers in Breakfast Club and Adventure Club, but because they are always preparing for the next presentation, they don’t have as much time to hang out with the kids. Like many other teams that work behind the scenes while the counselor and campers move from activity to activity, this team can sometimes feel like they don’t get to connect with the campers as much as some of the other staff. However, we always make sure that this team has opportunity to serve as ‘relief’ counselors each night, so they each have one group of campers that they spend time with every day.
As we prepared for camp last spring, I received a message from Austyn that he would not be able to be at camp that summer due to a schedule conflict. He then later called asking if he could come to camp after-all, explaining that he felt a sense of urgency in his spirit and needed to be at camp that summer. Of course, we welcomed him back! At the same time I was having these conversations with him, our child placement team was making calls to find our campers from the previous year. When they got in touch with a newly adoptive mom of one of our campers from the previous summer, she expressed how anxious she was to send him back for one more year. This child was very excited to see one particular person from camp the previous year, and that was Austyn! The mother conveyed that when they were processing the adoption and asked her son if he wanted to change his name, he quickly chose ‘Austyn’ as his new middle name. He wanted to be named after Austyn—the one who made an indelible impression with him at camp last summer.
Camper ‘arrival’ had a whole new meaning that summer. This little camper came bounding off the bus anxiously scanning the crowd. He wasn’t looking for the poster with his name on it, but rather for the face of the volunteer who had shown him such unconditional love and compassion. It was a beautiful reunion.
What a testament of the value of making moments matter. Thank you to every volunteer—no matter what your role. What you do matters!
Paula Manley, RFK camp Director in South Dallas, Texas