A Volunteers Journal Day 1: Welcome to Camp!

Welcome to our first ever Camp Blue Skies mini-series. Thought you would enjoy a play-by-play look at James Guimond's experience at our camp as a week-long volunteer. Please enjoy the first of five installments. Each one broken into bite size pieces so you can savor every detail. Camp Blue Skies provided a camp experience to 60 plus campers this last October. I was fortunate enough to volunteer as a camp counselor. I served as Cabin Captain for Cabin 10 during this session. This week had such a profound impact on me that I decided to write this journal. To help the families of campers who attended this session, or other sessions just like it understand what their campers were able to experience during these camp sessions. For families thinking about whether this experience would be right for their family members, this journal will share the camp experience we had staff and campers alike, to show what an amazing experience this week can be for both. While these campers may not be your camper they represent the experience that campers have at a typical Camp Blue Skies session. I hope you enjoy this journal as much I did writing it, the great relationships made during this week will stay with me for a long time. I hope to see many of the campers, and new ones at next year’s fall session.

Cabin Captain for Cabin 10

James K. Guimond

***Some names have been changed ***

Cabin 10

Day 1 Saturday

As I was driving through the mountains on my way to Boomer NC, I was thinking about this journey that started several years ago. I have met one the greatest friends and supporters I have ever known. Blessed with the chance to work with Dick’s son to teach him exercise started this adventure that created this weekend at Camp Blue Skies. After the hectic push to get ready to leave for camp I finally began to relax a little on the beautiful ride through Boomer. The leaves had not yet turned for the fall foliage but you could tell it was just a few days away. The crisp fall air and the knowledge the craziness of business far off in the background at least for the week. My thoughts drift back to when I was a young boy spending summer camping with my family in the mountains of NH. I had always wanted to go to camp but never did as we camped a lot as a family in our trailer while I was growing up. I felt excited that I would finally get a chance to go to camp. Stopping at small country stored for a sandwich for lunch and make sure I was on the right road, although my iPhone said it was just around the corner. Little did I know this weekend was going to change my life in way I never expected.


As I rounded the corner there was the sign for Camp Harrison, a camp owned by the Charlotte Metro YMCA and leased to Camp Blue skies for this fall session 2012. Ours was the second of two sessions and I was really looking forward to working with this team I had heard so much about from Dick. Turn left onto the dirt road leading to the camp I could not help but get a little giggly as I drove past the Dude Ranch with all the beautiful horses out in the pasture, this was going to be fun. I had worked with special populations (developmental disabilities) before but never for a week straight, I hoped I would be up to the task. Pulling up to the main hall I was one of the first volunteers to arrive, even though I had hurried so as not to be late. Camp Harrison is a first class facility and expansive at over 2200 acres including a huge man-made lake. Bravo to the YMCA for investing in young people and families in such a quality way. Seeing the ropes course, and fishing docks down by the lake this was going to be a very cool week. After meeting Dick and being introduced to the staff and volunteers already in camp I found my cabin (10) and dropped off my gear. Volunteer orientation was scheduled for 2:30 pm on the Zip Line, this was my kind of camp. Being an avid rock climber in years past I was really excited to get clipped in and meet the rest of the team. A couple of rides on the Zip Line and let the games begin.

Many of the volunteers are close friends of Dick the founder of Camp Blue Skies so it was like a homecoming weekend atmosphere, and I am so blessed to be counted as a friend of Dick. I had wanted to volunteer for this project earlier but had to complete our mission work in the Gulf Coast before taking on a new cause. Judging by the wonderful folks I met at the Zip Line this was going to be something really special. If a man can be judged by the friends he keeps Dick is in some very good company, people with really big hearts and willing to share themselves in a worthy cause. Back to the great hall for dinner and training as the remaining volunteers arrived, what a stellar group of people to work with this week! Songs around the campfire at night completed a great first day of camp.

Tune into next week for A Volunteers Journal Day 2: Meeting the Campers!