I have been a volunteer with Children-At-Risk Empowerment (CARE) since 2007 (here); I first did a service-learning project with the organisation, and then went on to assume the role of facilitator for a number of CARE camps thereafter. After a brief hiatus during my National Service commitment, I went back for a camp at Anderson Secondary School from May 31 to June 2, and am headed for another one at another institution from June 19 to 21.
With a mission “to be Singapore’s premier provider of services relating to at-risk youths”, CARE has been striving to provide their students with relevant programmes to help them fulfil their potential, and the organisation of school camps during the holidays are part of this framework. Therefore, this post is premised upon two intentions: first, to encourage more to sign up as volunteers for future, upcoming camps during the school holidays; second, to show my utmost appreciation to all of CARE’s social workers who have done so much.
The benefits during the camps really do go both ways: the kids become more cognisant of the importance of teamwork and leadership (bonding as a class through the sports and activities), they communicate better (during the planning and reflection phases), they generally unwind and have fun et cetera; at the same time, every individual camp continues to be a learning journey for me. I have learnt to be more confident and assertive when managing a group, be more adept when handling dissimilar groups of students (if they are reticent or boisterous), and am learning to interact with other volunteers and facilitators more effectively.
Camps are wonderful platforms for candid dialogue and interactions; and even though – realistically – it is impossible to turn their lives around or to change their perspectives within such a short span of time, the companionship and guidance are greatly appreciated.
It might not be easy to establish a connection with the members from the get-go, and the frustrations and challenges are inevitable because individuals – including the most seasoned volunteers – would be brought out of their comfort zones and pushed to their limits. Nonetheless, at the end of it all, when everything comes together nicely because of your hard work and perseverance (within a short span of three days), through all the sports and activities, it is amazing to see the bonds that have been forged.
Thanking The Social Workers
But the volunteers and facilitators form just one part of the entire camp organisation; despite having gone for multiple camps in the past, my last attendance has allowed me to develop a proper comprehension and appreciation for the work that the social workers put in on a day-to-day basis. The sacrifice is incredible, be it in terms of time, effort, energy et cetera. Without their contributions to these youths and the disenfranchised in general, many lives and households would not have been positively impacted over these years.
On behalf of so many of us, thank you very much. This profession may not be the most glamorous, or the one that gets the most attention, but the impact and changes you make are infinitely valuable. You guys have – and will continue to – inspire me throughout my life.
For more information about CARE and what they do, visit http://www.care.sg/. If you – or your friends – are interested in volunteering for school camps and other activities, email Mona at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.