Thursday, August 5, 2010

Becoming Who I Am Called To Be – A Teen’s Perspective On What Volunteering Gave Her

by Carley Emery, Class of 2012, Immaculate Heart Academy
Written after her experience with Family Promise of Bergen County

A time in my life when I felt very humble was quite recently. I volunteered as a counselor at Camp Lots of Fun. This camp was created by a woman, Cindy Blinn, who is the director for youth at Family Promise of Bergen County. The program was set up for children who either live or have lived in a family shelter in Bergen County. Cindy and the volunteers help the kids to have fun and experience a more privileged child’s summer.

The day before I was on my way to camp, my mom said to me, “You are going to meet these sweet young kids and soon you will be attached.” I did not acknowledge this statement. I thought to myself that she was wrong and it was only a job and a service requirement for school. How could I ever get myself attached to someone I haven’t even met and who I’ll only be with for a week?

I arrived at camp a half hour before the campers would be arriving to set up and get prepared for the long, eight hour day. As the campers shyly walked down the stairwell, they entered the room one by one. The very last camper to walk into the room was a tiny, African American girl.

This little girl was five years old and had recently moved out the Englewood Family Shelter into a two-family home in Hackensack. She was very shy and did not speak to anyone the entire day, except for me. She instantly opened up with me and was always by my side for the rest of the camp week! Although she was so young, she was an extremely bright little girl. I knew right away that she was going to grow up and do something marvelous.

This week of my life made me feel very special because I knew that I was helping people who had either very little or nothing at all. Although these people are less fortunate, they are of equal importance to anyone else. Seeing these children so happy and grateful to attend camp opened my eyes and reminded me that you should be happy with everything you have and there is no reason to worry about the things you do not. I know I got more out of this special experience than I ever thought.

Camp Lots of Fun, a program of Family Promise of Bergen County, is a non-profit, two week day camp for the homeless children of Bergen County. All the counselors are volunteer high school and college students. For information on volunteering in the future, contact Family Promise at 201-833-8009.

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