Barretstown volunteer Ashleigh Kiernan recently spoke to We Act, about her journey from camper to volunteer, and about just how rewarding it is to volunteer at Barretstown:
“12 years ago, I started attending Barretstown as a camper, and last year I started to volunteer. It sounds unique, but so many people have such a positive experience, that so many of us turn into volunteers. We never want to leave! As soon as I was 19, and able to sign up, I applied to volunteer. I wanted to give back to this charity that had given so much to me.
My role is pretty special. The volunteer is the main point of contact for those kids while they’re down at camp, you’re their go to person. But you’re not on your own, you’re a part of a team, and there’s so much support behind you. It’s a group effort to make sure camp runs smoothly and the kids have a good time. It can be tough, it is charity work, but it is very rewarding. You get so much out of it and I’ve created so many wonderful memories there.
Last summer, my first-year volunteering, I had a group of young girls, and it was just amazing to watch their confidence build and their relationships bloom. At the end of the week, they were going to perform in what camp calls ‘Cabaret’. It’s a fun talent show where each group gets to put on a dance or song for the rest of the camp. We got backstage, and one of the girls got a bout of stage fright. Immediately the other girls rallied together and crowded around her giving her pep talks and joking in this little group huddle. They got her sorted and they all ended up on stage grinning and laughing.
Seeing them say ‘we’ve got this’, was just incredible. It was crazy to see all the progress they had made in a week, and I was there to witness it. The ones who started out quiet were there cheering on their new best friends and they became this cool little unit. I just loved it and it reminded me of all the incredible experiences I had at camp.
I would encourage anyone to go and volunteer. Honestly, it is so worth it. And once you start, I haven’t seen anybody stop. You’re making an impact, no matter how small. You could be changing someone’s life just by laughing with them.” #WeAct
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