Giving back … being in service … volunteering …
The 3rd Ministry at Kingswood Campsite
By Holly Moore, with Dave Taylor
Since the early 1960’s, Kingswood has depended on volunteers to care for it. A small group of outdoors enthusiasts who liked and maintained it then, has become a large, diverse, growing community. Although these volunteers serve for many reasons, they share a common, deep satisfaction in the experience of “giving back.” There are more opportunities now than ever before to be of service, and a variety of skills are needed to operate this very successful site.
Kingswood has two ministries: hosting family and adult campers during the summer and providing Woodsmoke, one-week camping events for youth, during part of the summer. What has made these Kingswood ministries successful is the service of volunteers. Folks who empathize with these ministries enjoy being there with others whose beliefs they share. Some like the physical work of maintaining and building Kingswood. Others serve as summer staff. Others care for its planning, publicity, and administrative needs.
Over time, being in service has become the attractive feature of Kingswood. Service is its third ministry. We host seven service events yearly, plus two planning meetings, plus special project events.
Kingswood volunteers come from all different backgrounds. Some begin serving because of their experience camping here, some because of a connection with Woodsmoke, some have married into the tradition, others have come along for the first time with a friend. A number of our volunteers are third generation volunteers (just as we have a growing numbers of inter-generational family campers).
What does volunteering look like at Kingswood? For one thing, unlike volunteering at other places where the staff would be organizing work events, at Kingswood a work event is organized and run entirely by volunteers. Volunteering at Kingswood usually begins with participating in one of the seven annual service events held throughout the year: Set-Up (Memorial Day weekend) when the tents are set up and the camp begins to wake up, Take-Down (the weekend after Labor Day) when the campsites are taken apart, two Senior Weeks (just before camp opens and just after camp closes) when folks sterilize dishes, scrub pots and stoves and coolers at the end of the season and in June, basically get the campsites ready for use, two Men and Teenage Boys’ Work Weekends for building and maintenance project work, and Trail Blazing Weekend in June. As one Kingswood leaders said, “At these events we need people to haul, lift, carry, clean, scrub, cook, and organize.
Throughout the year other folks volunteer as camp managers for one week in the summer becoming the “face of Kingswood” as they offer hospitality, mow, clean, answer phones, make ice, take reservations, and generally keep the camp running smoothly for the week. Others work behind the scenes doing such work as purchasing, bookkeeping, taking water samples, designing and building improvements to our physical facilities, doing electrical and plumbing jobs, maintaining the grounds, doing clerical work, website design, vehicle maintenance, photography, publicity, developing programs for family camp, leading Sunday services, working at Stone Ministry, visiting churches to spread the word about Kingswood, maintaining the playground, keeping up first aid supplies, leading retreats, presenting Adult Camp programs, cooking for Adult Camps, planting flowers around the site, helping during Woodsmoke.
We are particularly in need of volunteers who have expertise in technology, publicity, use of social media, video, photography, forestry, knowledge, and natural history.
A very special expression of volunteerism at camp can be seen in the Woodsmoke Service Projects. Woodsmoke volunteering began about 22 years ago when a few Woodsmoke campers thought it would be a good idea to have a bridge across the creek (thus Jungle Pass was born). They asked for some wood and nails and built it. The concept of campers giving back was born and we have never looked back. Read the Woodsmoke article in this edition for a list of the Woodsmoke projects completed over the years. In addition to learning new skills and practicing the teamwork learned in the campsite, Woodsmoke campers (and their parents) gain a satisfaction from the completed project and from knowing that the work they have done remains at Kingswood as a witness to their “giving back.”
So why do so many people choose to give back at Kingswood? There are probably as many reasons for volunteering as there are people who volunteer! This is what we hear:
- “It’s fun!” Working along with a group of people is really enjoyable.
- “You get to know people and they become life-long friends.”
- “The Kingswood community of volunteers becomes a support system similar to a church community. We attend each other’s family weddings and funerals and offer support.”
- Give and take of ideas. Collaboration of people with a variety of skills and backgrounds, expertise, and age diversity.
- “I like that decisions are made basically by consensus.”
- “This is a place I want my children to enjoy. I volunteer because I want Kingswood to be a part of their lives.” Kids at volunteer events quickly learn about the fun and satisfaction of working together, absorbing the work ethic of the other volunteers as they work hard alongside folks from 5 to 85 (as well each decade in between) and then relax and play together afterwards.
- “I love Kingswood. I love the way God seems so close here. I want to help make sure that Kingswood remains so others can have the experience of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation that I have here.”