Volunteer Spotlight – Hayley Winship

“I am grateful to Kingswood for the freedom, friendships and lessons it has given me. I am blessed to have such a place of love and joy to call my Home Away from Home “

Hayley Winship is a Junior at Oneonta College and a lifelong Kingswood volunteer! An October baby, Hayley has spent time every summer of her life here at Kingswood. She calls it her “grounding element” and says she was literally raised here by the Kingswood ‘village’. 

In middle school, when she had to log volunteer hours for Girl Scouts and the National Honor Society, Hayley realized she had been volunteering her entire life! Haley’s first Kingswood memories, at 4 or 5 years old, are picking up sticks at the tent sites and clearing the ground with the other children during set up. By age 11 she was given a key, the one that opens the store and the ice cream freezer. She relished the responsibility as she showed campers around the store and sold ice cream. Hayley especially enjoyed stacking wood; driving the loaded golf cart from the woodshed to the wood stand in the parking lot!

Like most teens, Hayley didn’t want her parents always telling her what to do and in middle school began volunteering to work on crews separate from them.  And she began to bring friends to camp to volunteer with her. The bond with friends who showed interest in and enjoyment of Kingswood became stronger, and it was hard to overlook it if a friend did not appreciate camp.

While continuing to volunteer every set up and take down weekend, Hayley became a staff person as the summer lifeguard in 2018. She enjoyed getting to know how vast and diverse the campers are and how deeply Kingswood impacts them, providing space for a deeper connection to each other and to nature.  Kingswood lifeguards live at camp and the job includes buildings and grounds work: cleaning the bath house and lawn mowing. The experience of working and living on her own and having responsibility was difficult the first year. But Hayley notes that “the experience has pushed me throughout the rest of my life, I’m not scared to start up a new job. I can make it anywhere.”

Hayley has missed the camaraderie and conversation of set up and take down weekends during this year of Covid. However, she did experience joining a socially distanced group of young adults on a set up weekend and realized they had all grown from the children picking up sticks to becoming an independent work crew!

Hayley has enjoyed camp in all seasons, and encourages us to experience a Kingswood Winter. Staying in the farmhouse, sitting by the fire, long days in the snow and cross-country skiing provide a different kind of Kingswood encounter. She recommends the red trail during or after a snow, describing it as a winter wonderland and the frozen lake as a spark of magic!

For Hayley, Kingswood is that place that is consistent in a crazy life, providing time to hang out with family and family and deepen connections. And while she knows that in the next 5 or 10-years she will be exploring many new opportunities, she is certain she will always come back!