Camp Echoing Hills and Echoing Hills Village needs volunteers

| March 23, 2021

“Helping others might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person.”

Volunteering can not only change your life, but it can drastically change the lives of others. Camp Echoing Hills and Echoing Hills Village are just two of the places in our area that are always looking for volunteers to help. Camp Echoing Hills provides weeks of summer camp and respite weekends for those with developmental disabilities, while Echoing Hills Village is a residence for people with disabilities.

Camp Program Director Emily Smith said the backbone of the ministry is through the help of volunteers. “Our volunteers may be previous summer staff returning to reconnect relationships with past campers or they may be new with no previous experience of being around someone with a disability. I love getting to watch those continued relationships grow, as well as seeing the new, young volunteers have their eyes opened to view people that the world, many times, chooses to ignore or not understand could be a new friend.”

Smith was in high school when she started working with peers with disabilities and said it was a life changing experience for her. “I realized how amazing these people are!” Camp Echoing Hills has a basis of faith that encourages staff, volunteers and campers to grow their faith while they are having fun.

Camp Director Lauren Unger said, “Choosing to serve at camp is definitely a one of a kind experience and being part of it can really help you put things into perspective. When you can allow yourself to focus on giving to the needs of another person – there are really no words to express what you get back.”

Unger added, “You gain lifelong friendships at camp. The more you give at camp, the more you receive. Our campers are some of the most encouraging and kind people I know. Personal growth is something you will definitely find here, too.  You have the opportunity to grow as a leader, as a mentor, as a friend and you can learn a lot about yourself in the process.”

David Auxt started volunteering at camp because his church sent a group every summer. He said his first summer, he mostly washed dishes and cleaned cabins because he knew behind the scenes help made everything easier for everyone. “I knew I loved serving after that first summer.” He expected his second summer there to be much the same, because he didn’t feel confident directly serving the campers. “People with special needs seriously intimidated me as I had been sheltered from people with different needs from my own. However, after less than an hour talking with the campers, the intimidation was gone. Camp has instilled a love for people who are different from myself. Camp built a strong desire in my heart to serve the people around me to the best of my ability. My memories of camp involve building a deeper love for God and the people around me, regardless of any differences.”

A youth church group is also how Lauren Sayers began volunteering at camp. “I was pretty nervous to go, but I was excited for the opportunity. Once the week was over, I knew I’d go back for years to come.” She began volunteering in sixth grade and continued going to Kids Week with her church group for five years, then went on her own when she couldn’t go with the original group.

“The camper’s love and joy continues to draw me back to camp! I was so happy to know them and spend time with them. I remember talking about them year round and hoping I could see them again the following summer.  It was so neat to build hundreds of relationships with campers, volunteers and staff and truly feel the love of Christ all around you.”

“Camp Echoing Hills has absolutely changed my life for the better and I can’t imagine my life without all of the people I’ve met there and all of the memories made.”

Kassandra Rice started volunteering when she was a senior in high school with her church youth group. “That next summer, I felt called to start working there and worked for four full summers, plus volunteered at lots of respites. I kept going back because I fell in love with the campers and the atmosphere of the whole camp experience. My favorite part about camp is seeing campers’ faces light up when they get excited about something and just getting to know them and becoming their friend.”

Individuals and groups are welcome to volunteer at Camp Echoing Hills. All training is provided. Anyone who would like more information about volunteering at camp is encouraged to contact Smith or Unger at 740-327-0300.

Jenn Massaro, corporate communications specialist at Echoing Hills, said that volunteers have several options to choose from with the residence and their Connections program. “Volunteers with the Community Living program have the opportunity to spend quality time with those we serve. This time can include helping with games like Bingo, leading Bible studies or taking walks around our 94-acre campus.”

“Echoing Connections has offered volunteers the opportunity to work on landscaping and flower beds, clean and organize. They also have the opportunity to go on outings with the individuals we serve as well as do activities here such as games, crafts and talents shows.” Due to COVID, restrictions are in place for the community living and connections programs, but anyone interested is encouraged to contact Echoing Hills at 740-327-3325 for more information.

Category: People & Places

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