Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing all of our 2019 Camp Directors on the blog. This week, meet Ben Schile, Youth Camp Director.
Ben Schile, Youth Camp Director
What is your favorite camp activity?
My favorite camp activity is campfire. I enjoy all the jokes the campers tell as well as the abounding amount of talent that our campers and volunteers possess both musically and creatively. When everyone stands up for the infamous ‘GET UP ON YOUR FEET SONGS’ and sings along I feel a sense of kinship and camp family I’ve found nowhere else.
What has volunteering with Camp Rainbow Gold meant, or given, to you?
Over my life I have taken jobs I wasn’t sure of, made decisions I was never 100 percent certain were the correct ones. But volunteering for Camp Rainbow Gold, I know, is inherently good. I know that when I’m preparing for camp, at camp, or reveling in a camp memory with fellow volunteers or campers it is exactly where I was meant to be. You can meet many volunteers across a variety of worthy organizations but encountering a family like CRG provides is intrinsically rare. In an upside-down world, it’s nice to be re-righted with the CRG family every now and again.
Why is this work important?
There’s a bible verse I think about when I am charged with a decision in life, Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the voice of the lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “here am I, Send me!” This verse is simple, when we are called upon to volunteer our time, effort or finances it may not be the easiest thing to do. Physically, mentally and emotionally, volunteering can be exhausting, but, if we don’t volunteer, then who else? If you see that you can possibly do some good in this world then it is your duty to do so. Without our volunteers, CRG does not exist. We rely on a large volunteer recruitment process every single year. As the camp grows, so does the need for more excellent volunteers. However, when you break it down it’s quite simple, if I asked you, “How would like to experience the best week of your life, possibly change someone else’s life, certainly change yours and experience the entire adventure with the most caring group of people in the state, possibly the world?” You’d be crazy not to say yes.
Why is the camp you oversee the best to volunteer at?
I’ll preface this with, “I have volunteered at every camp and each one holds a special piece of my heart.” Youth, however, is a very special week. We have a great nursing staff at our camp. They are energetic and constantly joining in the fun, but when duty calls, they are very professional. We also have very kind and nurturing volunteers. Most of the volunteers at camp have children and many have had children in the organization. What does this mean? This means a level of understanding and familiarity with what our campers are going through that is invaluable.
Youth camp is ages 6-12 and these are very different stages of development. This makes for some very entertaining team-building and conversations between campers. One of the neatest things I’ve experienced at youth camp is when a young camper maybe age 6, is hesitant to leave their parents on the first day, by day 2 they’ve immersed themselves in camp so much that homesickness was a fleeting memory and by Friday they are upset because the week went so fast.
Apart from being a director, what was your favorite camp volunteer position?
Being director means you start volunteering in January for a camp at the end of July. My other favorite positions have been Videographer and Cabin Counselor. Video is one of the most time-consuming tasks at camp, however, it is one of the most fun. You get to go to every activity you have time for, this means hustling from mountain biking to archery and then over to ropes all within an hour. The smiles and the laughter of the campers is all the thanks needed when your video is played at the end of the week.
I also enjoyed being a counselor. When you are a counselor you get to build friendships with your cabin that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you’re overseeing in a leadership role. Some of the most memorable camp moments are telling ghost stories when you’re trying to get everyone to go to sleep or watching a camper who didn’t think they would be able to ride a bike take that first pedal.
Do you have a favorite camp memory you like to share?
My first year volunteering I was in a cabin with two campers who lost the battle with cancer. Cancer had previously affected my life, but I had never known a child with cancer until I volunteered. The zest for life these campers have blown me away. I was expecting sick kids struggling. I could not have been more wrong. Take away the name of the camp and you’d never have known this was an oncology camp.
I digress; we had one camper that needed to be in a stroller much of the time due to an aggressive brain tumor affecting his ability to walk. This camper had a great sense of humor, whenever I would tell a stupid joke, he’d roll his eyes and say “Oh, brother.” To watch how his cabin mates would always help him whether it be grabbing something he needed from his bag or offering to push the stroller and slow down on a walk so that he could be involved with the group was very moving.