As a volunteer, you never know what you will be doing one day to the next. We make plans and we stick to those plans as much as possible, but there are always opportunities to do things that you might not have the chance to do otherwise. We have the opportunity, sometimes, to help in other programs and with other projects. With those opportunities, you never know quite what you are getting into until you are there. These opportunities range between Disaster Relief or WorkFest (manual labor helping people who need warm, safe, and dry shelter), and volunteer recruitment (sometimes volunteers can go recruit at their Alma Mater or some other place where they are connected). When you volunteer to help with one of these other programs, you know that you will be getting into something a little different. Sometimes, though, your own program can be surprising and kind of surreal.
In my community, we do a lot of personality inventory tests. They are kind of fun and they might only help as much as you can be honest with yourself, but I am consistently told by those tests that I am a Thinker… that I spend a lot of (and maybe too much) time in my head. Since I have this personality trait, it is important that I have moments to just check in with what is happening right now in the world around me, like a “stop and smell the roses” moment. I also have a slight obsession with “living in the moment” since it is something that I have to force myself to do in order to remain sane. Routine is helpful sometimes, but I really appreciate those chances I have to do something new and different.
Summer Camp was such a time when I could do something new and different almost every day. I had one of these “smell the roses” moments during orientation. All the counselors went on a hike together one day as part of our orientation. This hike was hilariously doomed from the outset, since the ground was muddy from continuous rain and the hike was straight up a mountain, over a ridge, and back down. One of the other counselors was having a health problem as we neared the peak of the mountain. She decided that it was best not to finish the hike since we had not gone even a third of the way. I came back down the mountain with her to make sure she made it back safely. We checked in with our manager and then headed over to the fire pit where our coordinators were cooking a supper of Hobo Stew for the counselors to eat after their hike. We helped them for a few minutes, and then the skies opened up and rain poured on us. My fellow counselor and I ran for the covered bed of a truck that was nearby. I worried about the hikers since I knew that the ground was already wet and the rain would add another peril. Then I looked around and saw that the sun was still out even though it was raining. We were stuck in a beautiful sunshower. The coordinators had come prepared to protect the fire from the elements, and they were covering the fire with an oversized rainbow colored umbrella. The whole scene was ridiculous. At the time, I could not help but laugh and thinking about it now makes me laugh as well. Pretty soon, the counselors came down the mountain. They were shouting about all the events along the way. Some of them had gone down the mountain on their derrieres, some could not see through rain-soaked glasses, and some were just soaked and laughing.
The sunshower passed and we uncovered the stew and ate dinner. That was the surreal beginning of a fun and friendship-filled summer, spent serving the children in our service counties.
Anna is an AmeriCorps Educator/Summer Camp Counselor at CAP’s Camp Andrew Jackson and is a member of the Jackson Volunteer Community. Opinions expressed in volunteer blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CAP or the Volunteer Program.