Volunteering at DAB Summer ‘17 has been a personally enriching experience that’s definitely opened my eyes. During the last four weeks we were given the opportunity to significantly influence a group of unique yet ambitious high schoolers not too different from ourselves when we were their age.
Many Jamaicans underestimate the impact that good mentorship can have on the development of a teen. A good teacher, pastor and in our case camp counsellor, can change the life trajectory of a young man or woman simply by showing a sincere interest in their well being. This is what we as volunteers tried to do to the best of our ability.. During the preparation phase of the camp we outlined several goals for ourselves, the most important one being that the students have a great experience while attending. This was the underlying motivation for all of the activities we orchestrated during the camp, and I dare say we succeeded.
During the last week of camp, I keenly observed the students and I can say with certainty that the vast majority of them were not the same persons they were three weeks prior. Everything that we did during the execution phase of our camp gave way for self-exploration, personal development and a well deserved boost in their self-esteem. Statements from the campers such as “This year was so much better organised than last year” and “You guys are the best set of volunteers we’ve ever had” really validated the feeling among us, that we accomplished our goal.
Reflecting upon my time at the camp, being a volunteer especially in the service of young people is an exercise in patience and maturity. I find that I have a much deeper appreciation of what it takes to organise something like a summer camp, as simple as they might seem. I have also learned that things will rarely turn out exactly as you planned them, so one must always be prepared for any eventualities and have contingency plans in place.
It was challenging, being in charge of so many different young people for the duration of the camp. We each had to take time out to learn and appreciate the personalities of all the students in order to get the best out of them. We did this because a key aspect of our camp was getting the students to identify and appreciate their individual strengths, we tailored our camp activities to magnify these strengths and disarm their weaknesses. We also taught them about the importance of being able to work well in groups as they looked towards collaborating with others . Most of us volunteers, knowing the value of these life lessons were glad to be able to instill them in the campers so they can avoid some of the pitfalls we fell victim to at their age.
Volunteering in a program like DAB Summer 17’ or something similar is something I’d recommend every young adult to do if they are seeking to become a well rounded individual. The lessons I’ve learned over the two months of the camp are invaluable and will stay with me for life, it was an experience well worth my time.