I have been hearing about Camp Make a Difference all year so when I had the opportunity to go and volunteer with the campers, I went.
Camp Make a Difference is offered through the Columbia Association in partnership with The Volunteer Center Serving Howard County. This summer season the camp is running for three one week sessions. However, in the past it has run for four weeks.
The campers enjoy all the comforts of a typical summer camp by doing fun recreational activities and cooling off from the summer sun in the swimming pool. However, what’s humbling is that the youth of Camp Make a Difference have chosen to also dedicate a considerable portion of their time volunteering with local agencies and learning about the importance of community and giving back.
Last Thursday I met the campers at the Ellicott City Senior Center. It was bingo day at the center and the room was packed. The campers spread out throughout the room and sat next to the seniors. Some of the seniors had hearing problems, sight problems, or mild dementia so the campers helped their senior if they needed any assistance.
I had a good laugh sitting next to my senior. She must have heard John Denver’s “Country Road” on the bus ride over to the center because she kept singing “mountain mama take me home”. She sang for a good 15 minutes before the bingo game began and that’s no exaggeration! I surprised her and pulled out my iPod shuffle and turned it to “Country Roads” and she got a kick out of hearing the song and singing along.
It was really interesting to watch the campers interact with the seniors. Some of the campers, you could tell, were just incredibly comfortable interacting with seniors while others were a little more nervous. Either way they all brought a lot of joy and a change of pace to the seniors who are most likely accustomed to routine.
I asked one of the campers seated at my table why she chose to enroll in Camp Make a Difference and she replied saying that she wanted to make her contribution and get more involved in volunteerism.
Hats off to all of the campers of Camp Make a Difference because they are undoubtedly doing just that.