Although we haven’t had volunteers on site in the last year or so, we are so so grateful for their work and support. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’d like to highlight the experience one of our dedicated volunteers, David, had working with campers in 2019.
“My name is David. I work at Cerner. In 2019, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a counselor for a week of camp at Wildwood.
How I Got Involved
You might wonder how I came to spend a week with campers at Wildwood.
I first learned about Wildwood in March 2018 when I was searching for volunteer opportunities. I stumbled across a listing for Wildwood’s fundraiser, Take A Wild Guess, at Boulevard Brewery. Between my background as an Eagle Scout and my fondness for local beer, I knew that this was the perfect volunteer opportunity for me. I volunteered at the event–manning a game station for guests–but I immediately felt I had more I could offer Wildwood than a donation or a few hours of my time.
Potential camp staff have a lot to consider when taking a job at Wildwood. Whether the candidate likes kids, where camp is located, how much the job pays, and skills to be gained rank among the chief concerns.
In a seasonal job, we know that it’s also important for candidates to be able to leverage their experience to snag a new job or internship.
We want to make sure the experience is meaningful, fun, and useful as staff move into their future careers. To that end, we’ve included a few tips below for Wildwood camp staff (past, present, and future!) to add to their resume.
This February, we’re honoring Black History Month by celebrating Black individuals and organizations that make a difference in the outdoors. These leaders include scientists, rock climbers, ultra-runners, cowboys, and more. Check out the leaders below!
1. John Francis, Planetwalker
John Francis “Planetwalker” is an environmentalist and author.
In 1971, he watched oil spill into the San Francisco Bay, and was so disconcerted that he swore off all motorized transportation. For the next 22 years, Francis walked everywhere, raising awareness about the importance of the environment. This earned him the nickname “Planetwalker.”
Francis got frustrated when his words didn’t make enough difference, so he also took a vow of silence for 17 years!
He ended his vow of silence in 1990 on Earth Day, and also earned a PhD in land management.
A year later, Francis was named UN Environmental Program Goodwill Ambassador, and in 2008, National Geographic published his memoir, Planetwalker.
Today, Francis continues his work as an advocate for the environment.
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed just existing in the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s critical that we take care of both our mental and physical wellbeing. Keeping mentally healthy during this time is particularly important for kids, whose brains are still growing and developing.
At Wildwood, one of our favorite strategies to keep kids’ (and adults’) minds healthy is by engaging in mindfulness. Not only are mindfulness practices usually quick and simple, but they can have an impressive positive effect on mood.
Making friends is a huge feature of the camp experience. It’s easy to bond in five short days. Campers eat, sleep, and try new activities together. They participate in unique traditions and are encouraged to be their most authentic selves.
As much as we’d like to believe that the most salient parts of camp are the carefully thought out, academically rich activities we construct, it’s the new friends with whom campers complete these activities that they remember most.
So when a pandemic came knocking on our door, we decided to do something to keep friendships bright. Specifically, we decided to create a friendship bracelet kit designed to increase campers’ social-emotional learning, and feelings of connection.
For many parents–maybe even you–this fall will include some degree of homeschooling. Whether it’s full virtual school, a part virtual schedule, or parents leading full homeschool lessons, being tasked with managing a student’s needs can be daunting and stressful.
So, while we might not be able to stay at home with your child, we’d like to offer a few camp tricks to make homeschooling just a little easier.
As a kid, I made “quicksand” out of dirt and hose water; I picked dandelions and made houses for roly-polies; I played “spy” with my brother and two neighbor boys. Little of this play was directly supervised, and none of it was directed by adults.
As an adult however, un-planned play time with kids leaves me with a deep anxiety. I worry that they will be bored. I’m terrified that they will be hurt. I hear myself reflexively cry out “Be careful!” and watch their every step.
I think, “I must be doing this wrong. Don’t kids need structure?”
But they probably need less regiment than I think. Despite my anxiety, kids thrive on unstructured play.
Folks tell me this when I meet someone new and tell them where I work. High schoolers and adults alike remember spending time at Wildwood with their sixth grade class or at summer camp. In fact, we estimate that 160,000 Kansas Citians have visited Wildwood at some point.
What’s wilder is that Wildwood is turning 40 this year!
We created a new 40th anniversary logo, and we think it’s time to re-tell the Wildwood story.
This month, Marcus Kain, one of our most dedicated volunteers reached 100 hours of service for Wildwood.
Marcus is a very active human. He is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, trail runner, and public speaker with a passion for mentoring youth. He regularly speaks to Kansas City area middle and high school students about business and ethics, and is currently writing a philosophy book.