Mission Impossible: Service day at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta
I believe in full disclosure. I never went to camp as a kid. When I found out that the community service project for the Hallam-ICS Vermont team was at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta I didn’t know what to expect.
I am passionate about people. I have been volunteering my entire life, so when the opportunity to volunteer at a camp for kids with cancer was announced I jumped aboard.
On Friday, June 10, 2016 it was a beautiful 70 degree day in Vermont. Upon arriving at Camp Ta-Kum-ta with rakes, gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs, bug spray, sunscreen and water in hand I realized this was no ordinary camp. The first sight was the blue expanse of Lake Champlain framed by the Adirondack mountains. The camp road had landscaped paths and flower beds leading to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta’s main lodge. My first impression was “wow, lucky kids”…then I remembered this isn’t a camp for privileged kids. Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is a camp for kids and their families who have Cancer to allow kids to be campers instead of cancer patients free of charge. I checked my attitude and joined the group awaiting instructions.
We had all been asked to bring rakes for landscaping and there were more rakes than you could shake a stick at. The 32 volunteers from Hallam-ICS gathered in a circle and listened to the work that needed to be done. A tour of the camp included the cabins, a challenge course, swimming pool, tennis courts, fire pit, playhouse, chapel, picnic area and remembrance paths. Each area had stories of campers and their families transformed and empowered by the camping experience. Grace’s playhouse was especially touching, because when she knew she was losing her battle with cancer she donated this elaborate Victorian playhouse to the camp, so other kids could enjoy it. Grace’s generous spirit and love of camp lives on in this purple playhouse and is just one example of how much this place meant to the kids and families that stayed here.
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta covers an impressive 103 acres and its upkeep is by volunteers. I wondered “How are we going to have enough time to weed, mow, paint, clean and repair steps?” Thankfully having years of experience making the impossible happen was on my side. The 32 Hallam-ICS volunteers had carpentry, gardening, landscaping, painting, brush clearing and brush burning skills. Most importantly the volunteers from Hallam-ICS had the willingness to dig in and get the work done despite the obstacles.
The overhanging branches were trimmed, thorny weeds pulled, brush burned, large tracks of land mowed, weed whacking done, stairs repaired and painting done by our group.
I may have thought this volunteer day was mission impossible, but I was inspired by the smiles and hard work around me. I was painting picnic tables until I thought my arms would fall off. I knew a lot of my co-workers would also be sore the next few days, but the work that was done that day would be enjoyed by countless kids and parents who fight an uphill battle against cancer every day.
Thank you to all my fellow volunteers for all your hard work.
About the Author
Jennifer Barr has worked for Hallam-ICS since 1998 in Administration and Accounting. Jen currently handles Travel, Safety, Shipping, Calibration records, back up for Purchasing and back up office management. Jen is an artist, yogi, hiker, biker, trivia buff with a knack for remembering birthdays.
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Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.