Volunteer Spotlight: Marcus

camp volunteer

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.

Despite his other priorities, Marcus has made time to volunteer at and for Wildwood. He has stepped in to help with everything from building the garden to checking in guests at Electric Night Hike to clearing weeds from the pond.

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Lighting Up Wildwood

Lighting Up Wildwood

Last week, I spent a cold afternoon placing colored LED lights in trees with a volunteer and fellow Wildwood staffer, preparing for the first Electric Night Hike. I grumbled. My fingers were numb, and I couldn’t imagine the lights looking good, much less magical.

As the sun went down though, I relaxed. The lights began showing through the trees, a line of green and yellow and red lights lighting up the path around the pond. It was indeed magical.

I stopped for a moment, breathing in chilled November air and gazing skyward. I was amazed how many stars were visible. Twinkling light that had traveled at least eight years to get to me, to camp.

Cabin lights and night sky at Wildwood
A shaky photo I took of night at Wildwood

My cold fingers and wind-burnt cheeks didn’t bother me any more. I remembered why this year’s fundraising campaign, Light Up Wildwood, matters.

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How Music Festivals Become Camp Magic

Dancefest photo

What do electronic dance music, outlaw country music, and summer camp have in common? They all happen on the same 150 acres we call Wildwood Outdoor Education Center.

In 2019, we embarked on our second year of a contract with a local music festival company, Borda Productions. The company puts on two multi-day music festivals at Wildwood, bringing thousands of visitors to the Wildwood property each year. 

The festivals, as you might imagine, are loud and different and, at the beginning of September, sweaty. Festival goers love Wildwood for its natural beauty, great camping areas, and convenient Miami County location.

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Camp Reads

Camp Reads

When you think about summer camp, reading probably doesn’t spring to mind. You probably think about canoeing, fishing, archery, swimming, campfires, and new friends.

But reading has become an integral part of camp at Wildwood. In 2017, thanks to a generous grant from the Harry L. and Helen M. Rust Charitable Foundation at Commerce Bank, we were able to build the Wildwood library and adopt the Explore 30” Camp Reading Program–a program that encourages everyone (campers and counselors) to read for at least thirty minutes each day.

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Getting Noticed at Camp

Getting Noticed at Camp

This summer, I was “Noticed” by a fellow staff member for having a cheery attitude at camp. They handed me a blue rubber bracelet stamped with the words “I AM NOTICED.”

“Hey, I just wanted to give you this because I Noticed your good attitude, and I wanted you to know that it matters.”

“Thanks,” I said, still slightly confused, but grateful.

It had been a long week–the summer heat zapped everyone’s energy, and I had was working hard to keep a smile on my face. So I was tickled to be the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness and noticed for trying.

Although the bracelet didn’t match my style, it stayed on my desk all summer.

When I cleaned off my desk in early September, I wondered what being “Noticed” was all about.

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The Big Yellow Bus

Parents at Campers at a Bus Stop

Six times this summer I woke up early to meet the big yellow bus in local grocery store parking lot to load up campers for their journey to Wildwood.

Parents and their campers turn in their final paperwork with camp staff, load duffel bags and pillows into the rear door, give each other big hugs before they spend a week away from each other.

I love seeing the excitement of kids and parents, the slight smell of diesel, the squeak as the bus comes to a stop–it all reminds me of my week at Wildwood as a sixth grader. The excitement of going somewhere far away, on my own.

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