Campers from Camp Hope spent the day in Great Bend on Thursday at the zoo and at the Great Bend Swimming pool, of course none of this would be possible without the support these children get from the volunteers.
“Camp is so important to these children and the volunteers,” volunteer Tricia Lehr said. “These kids have such a hard life, so camp is a safe place for them to be who they are and to have fun. Everyone is accepted and everyone participates in all the events.”
The camp is operated by a staff of volunteers from all over the country, these volunteers spend the week with the children at the camp and participate in all the events with them and give them all the support and emotional care they need.
“The best thing to see is these children having fun, being accepted and just being kids after their struggle with their illness, it just warms your heart,” Lehr said.
“Our goal is to provide a normal camp experience to campers who may otherwise be denied this opportunity because of their underlying illness,” media coordinator Barb Keltner said. “New volunteers are often concerned that camp will be a sad experience. Once they attend they quickly realize that it is quite the contrary.”
The volunteer opportunities include:
Activities volunteers help organize and run all of the daily events at Camp. They make sure that the activities are running smoothly and safely. These volunteers help with everything from running the arts and crafts tent to organizing a basketball pick up game. Activities volunteers should be energetic and out-going.
House parents are the “moms and dads” at camp. These volunteers are assigned a small group of campers and are responsible for making sure those campers are safe and having fun. House parents stay in the same cabins with their assigned campers, eat meals with their campers and participate in activities with their campers. They truly are parents for the week. House parents must be at least 21 years of age.
Kitchen volunteers help organize and prepare all of the meals at camp. These volunteers could do anything from cutting vegetables to decorating a birthday cake. There are usually around 200 people to feed so the kitchen volunteers have a challenging job but when the campers demand a “Cooks Parade” in appreciation, they quickly remember why they do it.
The logistics volunteers are vital to the success of camp. They assist in the preparation and tear down of daily camp activities. They often work behind the scenes to make sure Camp Hope goes off without a hitch. Logistics volunteers must be able to lift and move large objects.
Camp Hope functions with a full medical team at all times. These volunteers are on-site and with the campers 24 hours a day.
The general function of a medical volunteer is to help make sure the campers are safe and healthy. Depending on the specific role, this can include providing first aid, administering medications (including chemo), and performing minor procedures.
The medical staff participates in camp activities; they do not simply staff the medical cabin. The medical team consists of the following positions: Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RN/LPNs, pharmacists and mental health specialists (psychologists, social workers, child life specialists, psychiatrists, etc).