Volunteer Spotlight: Chris
By Elizabeth McCurry
April 27, 2023
By Elizabeth McCurry
April 27, 2023
“The gift of service leads to a life of love.” – Mary White
We often talk about how essential many groups of people are to Camp, but as this month is National Volunteer Month, we wanted to focus on our volunteers! In particular, we wanted to share the story of one of our volunteers – Chris!
Chris heard of VJ for the very first time at a club meeting for a health sciences organization at East Carolina University. He volunteered for the very first time at VJ in the fall of 2013 and has been volunteering with Camp ever since! We asked him some questions about his experiences at VJ and this is what he said!
This is easily the hardest question. I have so many over the years, both with campers and with my fellow counselors. However, if I had to pick just one, it would have to be my first camper. I remember being slightly frightened. I was just some 19-year-old college kid, and suddenly I was going to be paired with a child and their family and help them take care of their child, and also work with them to create a fun experience for all of us. It seemed daunting, but my first camper and his family were amazing. Their optimism and kindness touched me in a way I simply cannot describe. We really helped each other through that weekend, and loved every second of it. If I have had even a fraction of the impact on any camper or family as they did on me during that weekend in fall 2013 I would be content.
For the kids. But to elaborate more on that, not only was my first experience at camp a truly magical and paradigm shifting one, I grew up being in and out of hospitals and surgeries and doctors’ offices. Seeing what Camp could do and what we as volunteers could do through Camp for these kids, who wouldn’t want to do that as often as they can?
Mr. Larry’s Archery Range. I think that area, more than any other, is an opportunity for every camper to overcome a challenge. Something they may not have an opportunity to try outside of Camp. And while that certainly is true for many of the activities at Camp, getting to see the sense of achievement and joy on a camper’s face when they pop a balloon or hit the bullseye or get their future gold, and the way we all come together to celebrate every time someone achieves the ultimate goal of getting a bullseye. There simply is nothing better. That’s not even to mention the way Mr. Larry has the innate ability to find and mentor the camper who needs it most and help them to achieve things they never believed they could do.
Honestly the “how did” portion of this question, while tactful, seems to my mind wholly unnecessary. I simply cannot imagine a circumstance where someone goes to Camp, whether for a week or even just a single weekend, and not be changed. Everyone I have ever known who worked or volunteered there, even if it was just the one time, has always expressed Camp’s impact. While Camp’s ultimate and highest goal is to be a place of fun and refuge for the kids we serve, in my mind it has always served a dual purpose. The world is a tough place, and it can be easy to lose sight of the goodness and the light in our own lives and the world at large.
Every time I go to Camp, despite leaving physically exhausted, I always feel spiritually renewed. Through the acts of service I have had the privilege of performing there, I have found a brighter, more interconnected perspective about the world. I don’t get to speak to many people I worked with at Camp often. But I will always feel grateful for them, that those people exist in this world, and that I had and continue to have the opportunity to pursue such a noble goal, alongside such noble and generous people who give of themselves without reservation. Even though we all volunteer at Camp to give what we can, I do truly believe that everyone leaves with more than that which they came.
We say it over and over again, – VJ couldn’t run our programming without our volunteers. If you want to learn more about our volunteer program or get involved yourself, please visit victoryjunction.org/volunteer/.