Written by Camper Alumna and Volunteer Amanda.
I first started volunteering with Camp Korey back in 2018 in the kitchen. I had been going to Camp Korey as a camper for years, and as I got older, I really wanted to find a way to continue being involved in camp and give back in some capacity. One of my favorite memories from working in the kitchen (outside of making delicious food!) was being able to listen to the sound of campers and counselors cheering and dancing after every meal – it was so fulfilling to listen to, and reminded me of the impact of every aspect of camp.
All my volunteer experiences, whether it be working in the kitchen, volunteering for fundraisers, or participating in Teen Task Force, have reminded me that Camp Korey works because of the community that surrounds it. Camp Korey’s community is such a beautiful representation of all the passion that it takes to make camp happen. One person had an idea, and the community came together to make it happen. We all, on some level, want to show empathy to those who need it. We want to be kind, we want to be understanding, we want to create change, we want to help… and we can see that in Camp’s donors and volunteers.
One of the volunteers who has continuously inspired me is Dr. White. I have been in a seven-year long war with him. It all started with my first Silly-O – it seemed so calm at first. Carefully set up stations, lots of paint and food, and helpful counselors everywhere. Then suddenly, I felt something cold and wet land on my head…. it was chocolate syrup and it was being thrown by my doctor! What was meaningful was I got to see my doctor as a human. It made going into my doctor appointments a lot less daunting. I knew that both of us were coming up with schemes to get back at each other the next year.
As a camper, I noticed these unique connections being formed everywhere. I remember going up to camp for the first time and being greeted by a whole bunch of adults dressed in costumes silly hats and bright colors which is certainly not something you think adults do when you’re 10 years old. You see them in lab coats, you see them in work clothes; you do not see them in big funny hats and goofy sunglasses. That wasn’t even the half of it. Something happened that had never happened before to me: when we came in and we were checking in…the counselors turned to me first…they acted like my parents essentially were not there and got to know me as a person, askd me how my drive was, and asked me what I like to do. I’ve never had that happen before because when you’re at the hospital they really only talk to your parents, in school they ask you for right answers on math tests, but at camp they ask you about who you are. I was walking into Camp Korey afraid of not being accepted and I was, instead, accepted.
Campers can see a different version of reality at camp – one where there is unconditional acceptance and encouragement for everyone to be their authentic self. After each summer ends, campers, staff, and volunteers come to embrace this radical acceptance and they start looking for those people in their daily life. Camp Korey has given me a chance to see how acceptance can truly bring people together. I believe in myself more since I have gone to Camp Korey and I know that my future matters just as much as anybody else’s does.
Because of Camp I have been able to recognize that I have lots of skills as a volunteer: I am silly, positive, active, funny, kind, and I love to give back to my community. I am currently going to school to be a Physical Therapist and would like to come back to camp someday as a staff member, so I can continue that tradition of empathy and support that makes Camp Korey so unique. I wish Korey could see this place. Could meet everyone at Camp. Again, there are so many stories here and no one person can embody it. I just know that it has changed my life.