Happy to be the Volunteer in Chief!

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016

by David Herron Volunteer-in-chief (and board president) YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc.   Every time I meet someone from the YMCA and they learn that I am a volunteer, they say, “Thank you for volunteering.” And every time I hear that, it strikes me as an odd thing to say. The truth of the matter is that I think I should be thanking them for the opportunity to be a YMCA volunteer.   Being a volunteer at Camp Ockanickon means to me that I can have a positive impact on the lives of the boys and girls that attend camp and our outdoor programs. As a Board member, we may not have direct contact with the kids at camp, but we are always aware that our decisions directly or indirectly affect our campers. We are responsible for ensuring that the camp stays financially strong so we can continue to provide all of the wonderful programs that kids enjoy throughout the summer.   Every summer, there are boys and girls coming to camp for the first time. When they arrive, they may be a bit shy and unsure of what to expect. But soon, they will be meeting other boys and girls, making new friends. Some of these friendships can last a lifetime.    Some kids will be reluctant to go swimming or to go diving in a lake. They are used to neighborhood pools where the water is clear and they can see all the way to the bottom. At Camp Ockanickon, Camp Matollionequay and Lake Stockwell Day Camp, swim instructors work with the campers to teach them water safety and to help them get over any fears they may have about swimming in a lake. You can see the child’s sense of pride when he/she has overcome their fear and takes their first plunge into the lake.   There are many activities that the campers will enjoy, some will experience these for the first time. Archery and the ropes course are a couple that come to mind. These boys and girls are learning that there are exciting new adventures for them. All of which can be experienced without a computer! Camp is a great way to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with nature and the environment.   The first-timer comes to camp feeling a bit shy and perhaps a bit awkward. But that same child will leave with new friends, a greater sense of self-confidence, pride in their accomplishments and a realization that a great life exists beyond the internet.   I know all this because I was that kid. And now I am that volunteer. Although I don’t get to directly impact a child’s life, I know, as a volunteer I am having a positive impact. And so I say, “thank you” for the opportunity to volunteer for a great place like YMCA Camp Ockanickon....

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Rotary coin toss benefits good programs at Ocky!

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016

This Rotarian had a change of heart about dreaded ‘coin toss’ fundraisers. (by Susan Miller) It’s a familiar sight, especially on pleasant weather weekends: orange vest-clad do-gooders, standing at intersections, holding out buckets near signs that announce they’re collecting spare change for one good cause or another. As a driver, I would often cringe at the approach to such a scene. What are they collecting for now? This is dangerous, it’s holding up traffic – and, darn it, I feel pressure to kick in! And so it was that I found myself in the very position of collector on a recent warm Saturday morning. I would have preferred to be doing something – anything – else that day. Scrubbing the bathroom floor, vacuuming the family room or standing in the dreaded grocery line seemed more appealing than bumming cash on a street corner in my own home town. But this was a project that my fellow Rotarians (of the Medford Sunrise Rotary) were involved with, and they asked me to help out. I could have found a reason to bail out, until they told me the cause for which they were collecting: The money raised from the coin drop would benefit the Scholarship Fund for the non-profit organization YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Inc. of Medford. It happens to be the place where I’m employed as marketing/communications director. And it happens to be for a cause that I strongly believe in: sending children to camp, those who couldn’t afford to go because of financial hardship. How could I possibly say no? Despite the worthy cause and my connection to it, there was no kick in my step when I walked to the center of the Union and Main in Medford – protected somewhat by a thin layer of sunblock and buffered only by a single traffic cone and an A-frame sign describing the worthy cause. The vest I wore was stenciled with the words, “Rotarian at Work.” I held a royal blue bucket with a sign taped to it that said “Help send kids to Camp Ockanickon.” Ugh, I thought, fighting feelings of mild panic. I don’t want to stand in the middle of the street; this feels like begging. The hours ahead loomed long. I fully expected to be ignored or, worse yet, to incur the wrath of irritated drivers who would be less than pleased to see me (and my Rotarian cohorts around the corner) holding up traffic on a busy errand day. Within the first minute, a woman stopped and put a fistful of change in my bucket. “Hey, thanks. That was so nice of you!” I stammered awkwardly, truly surprised at the gesture. Before I had a chance to register the positive encounter, another driver slid his window down and held out a dollar bill for my bucket. “Thanks for all you do,” he shouted. This went...

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