By Lindsey Loy
As a member of Kids Korps since 2006, I returned from college this summer to intern for the organization. My internship brought me back to the La Colonia Volunteer Camp, where I had previously been a counselor as a high school student.
This year was Kids Korps’ ninth year of running the camp, involving over 30 campers and 20 counselors – a record number of kids. Held in the La Colonia Park of Solana Beach, the camp brought campers and counselors to different agencies every day for a week. Congruent with Kids Korps’ mission statement and values, the camp’s purpose is to instill a sense of volunteerism and community involvement among young people.
The volunteer projects throughout the week are fun and youth-oriented. Some of the activities have been a part of the camp since I was a counselor in 2008, such as sorting food at the San Diego Food Bank and hosting beach cleanups at Moonlight Beach with San Diego Coastkeepers. Some activities were new to me, such as making seed balls for San Diego Canyon Lands, making bird houses, harvesting vegetables, and weeding at the North County Community Gardens and baking for the families at the Ronald McDonald House.
The always popular visit with the therapy dogs of Paws’itive Teams took us this year to their main office in San Diego to see their talented and well-trained dogs demonstrate how they can help individuals with disabilities. Each day before we went to the organizations, the campers did smaller scale volunteer projects throughout the week. These included making quilt patches for quilts for Soldier’s Angels, making knotted fleece blankets for foster children, and preparing peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunches for homeless shelters.
Although the week was busy, with over 50 children and teenagers and over five organizations to coordinate with, the camp was a success. What I noticed this year was exactly what I noticed when I was a counselor five years ago: kids get excited to volunteer. Giving back to the community captures kids’ attention and enthusiasm, offering a channel for their time and energy. Seeing the campers and counselors alike have fun cleaning up the local beaches or making cupcakes for the families of sick children is priceless.
The exposure that the Kids Korps Volunteer Camp gives these children is invaluable for fostering a sense of personal responsibility in one’s community. Thank you to our funders for making this camp happen, including the John and Mary Rainsford Foundation, Carol and Kent H. Landsberg Foundation, Macy’s INC, Santa Fe Christian Schools, and City of Solana Beach.