|by Murray Archibald|
Sometime over the summer I heard on the radio that volunteerism was down 20% over the last couple of years. Whether that is a true statement, I don't really know. What I do know, however, is that I couldn't have gotten through Sundance without the many volunteers who pitched in to make it happen. Nor could we do the work of CAMP Rehoboth without all the volunteers who assist the staff in a wide variety of tasks.
Heading into our Sundance week at the Convention Center, I knew I still had a few holes in my volunteer line-up for the week, but our busy schedule didn't leave me much time to worry about it. A good thing too, because I never, once, was short handed. At every occasion when we needed extra help someone would step up and say "put me to work."
Amazingly, we have Sundance volunteers who take a vacation from their work to come to Rehoboth to work for nothing. One of them even dropped a card off while I was writing this article thanking us for the experience. There is something magical about people working together for a good cause. Take a look at the huge list of Sundance volunteers on page 10. Ask them why they do it and I'm sure their answers will be as varied as they are, but running through them will be a common theme: a strong sense of purpose and a belief that working together we can accomplish great thingsand, become better friends, or make new ones, while we're at it.
Getting involved with an organization like CAMP Rehoboth (or any of the other community service groups and organizations in our area), can take many forms. For some, the experience is a willingness to do a specific taskto be an extra pair of hands. For others it means serving on boards and committees, chairing events, or donating specific services or talents like bookkeeping, data management, or graphic design.
With the completion of the new wing of the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, a multitude of new activities, projects, and programs will greatly expand the ways to get involved. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I sent out announcements to artists in the community about the formation of a CAMP Artist's Group that will be started this fall to share ideas, develop projects, and oversee and run the gallery space in the Community Center. Also just getting started is a new youth group under the guidance of Gail Jackson. Both of these groups are being developed by CAMP Rehoboth, but many others will come from other community groups or from individuals interested in starting things like book or theater clubs, game nights, poetry readings, or more.
The larger building also will require the training of even more volunteers to serve as greeters, information providers, and kiosk staffers. We already have grounds-keepers (called the Rainbow Thumb Club), but we'll also need to do the same in regards to building upkeep and maintenance. We'll need volunteer coordinators and additional volunteer staff to handle events and the many new activities and projects I just mentioned.
From what I've observed over the years, the best thing we can do is involve as many people in the life of the Community Center as possible. Over and over again this year, I've seen (as I did with Sundance) people step up and take responsibility for the tasks given to them. Back in the spring a group of people were invited to serve on the Development Advisory Board. The members of that Board have taken their responsibilities very seriously and in the process gotten even more involved in the work and life of CAMP Rehoboth.
Looking ahead for ways to make the new building a successful part of our community, I believe we must develop new committees with community members invited to serve for set terms in order to keep fresh ideas and creativity flowing throughout the organization. There must be a balance of long-term commitment and knowledge about the organization with a constant stream of fresh ideas and new community involvement if the Center is to live up to all the hopes and dreams we have for it.
Throughout the whole creative process, we need to have patiencethe community with the staff and leaders; the leadership with the community; the volunteers with all of it. This thing we call the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center is still being created, it is still a new thing for us all and as a community and an organization we are constantly learning our way.
Sometimes it takes time to find the right person or persons for a job. To those who come in to volunteer, if you don't find the right place the first time, come back and try something else. There are many, many ways to get involved.
My goal in the coming months is to say "yes" to as many new ideas for community involvement and Community Center program growth as possiblebut be forewarned, if you come to us with a good idea, we might just put you in charge of it.
My deep thanks go to all the volunteers who worked to make this Sundance, this summer, and this year a success for CAMP Rehoboth. You are the heartbeat of this organization.
Murray Archibald, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.
Thank you to all the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center Volunteers for the period of August 21-September 11.
Tony Burns Spencer Kingswell Charlie Lee Dennis Nelms Mark Owens Anthony Perkins Barb Ralph Chris Sampson Guillermo Silveira
*Rainbow Thumb Club
Matt Carey Ward Ellinger Rob Freeman Tony Ghigi Steve Hoult Anne Mundel Bud Palmer Ken Reilly Tom White
*CAMP Courtyard Caretakers
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 13 September 12, 2008