Spreading Rainbows: A Blue Yonder Associate Shares His Volunteer Story
April is Global Volunteer Month and the third week of April is National Volunteer Week in the U.S. Both are meant to recognize the importance of volunteers in building stronger communities. Blue Yonder associate David Schwartz shares his experience volunteering every year at Camp Rainbow.
For the past 13 years, I have been fortunate to be part of an extraordinary community of volunteers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Camp Rainbow. This exceptional camp serves children who have fought or are currently battling cancer and other blood disorders. Throughout my years of service, I have assumed various roles, starting as a Counselor and transitioning through the Programming Team, Outdoor Specialist, and now serving as an Administrator and Planner. In this blog post, I want to share the profound impact that volunteering at Camp Rainbow has had on my life, as well as the heartfelt experiences and lessons learned along the way.
A Haven for Joy and Adventure:
Nestled amidst the serene surroundings of the pines in Williams, Arizona (about 2.5 hours north of Phoenix), Camp Rainbow offers a transformative week-long summer camp experience for children between the ages of 7 and 17. It serves as a sanctuary where these remarkable kids can simply be kids, immersing themselves in a world of joy, adventure, and camaraderie. The camp provides a diverse range of activities, from swimming and arts and crafts to canoeing, archery, ropes and rock climbing, and sports, ensuring that there is something to ignite the spirit of every camper.
Building Connections and Finding Strength:
One of the most remarkable aspects of Camp Rainbow is the opportunity it provides for campers to connect with others who have shared similar experiences. It serves as a platform for forming deep friendships, exchanging stories, and finding solace in the knowledge that they are not alone in their journey. The bonds forged at Camp Rainbow often extend far beyond the camp’s duration, creating a network of support that sustains the campers long after they leave. Witnessing the incredible resilience and unwavering spirit of these children has been a constant reminder of the strength of the human spirit.
Dedicated Volunteers: The Heart of Camp Rainbow:
What sets Camp Rainbow apart is its dedicated staff, primarily composed of passionate volunteers from diverse backgrounds. From cancer survivors and medical professionals to college students, seniors, and even Blue Yonder Product Developers (that’s me!), the volunteers bring a wealth of experience and compassion to the camp. Their commitment and unwavering dedication create an environment built on trust, compassion, and encouragement, where the campers‘ well-being is the top priority.
My Journey at Camp Rainbow:
My journey with Camp Rainbow began 13 years ago when a friend invited me to help run a Casino Night event program. Little did I know that this one night would be life changing. Unlike any other summer camp I had experienced before, Camp Rainbow was a place where the kids were incredibly supportive of one another, displaying unwavering resilience and radiating positivity. The staff exemplified a service-first attitude, always prioritizing the children above all else. That initial encounter sparked a fire within me, propelling me on a journey that continues to this day.
Over the years, I have taken on various roles, starting as a counselor, where I had the privilege of creating evening programs and working on the camp theme with the Programming Team. I then transitioned to the role of an Outdoor Specialist, sharing my love for the outdoors and introducing the campers to nature through activities like tent camping. Currently, I serve on the Administration and Planning team, where we ensure that every aspect of the camp runs smoothly, from recruiting volunteers to working with medical staff on planning the menu. Adhering to high standards as an Accredited Camp means maintaining comprehensive training programs and well-defined processes and procedures for every activity.
Lessons Learned and Personal Growth:
Volunteering at Camp Rainbow has been an extraordinary journey of personal growth and enlightenment. The campers, their families, and fellow volunteers have taught me invaluable life lessons. Witnessing the unwavering spirit, determination, and ability to find joy amidst adversity has inspired me to approach life with a renewed perspective. The transformative power of community, empathy, and compassion has reaffirmed my belief in the incredible capacity of individuals to make a positive difference in the world.
Camp Rainbow is far more than a traditional summer camp. It is a place where children facing the challenges of cancer and blood disorders can find solace, strength, and joy in the embrace of a compassionate community. Through diverse activities, dedicated volunteers, and a focus on personal growth and resilience, Camp Rainbow empowers its campers to embrace their inner strength, fostering an environment of healing, hope, and unforgettable memories. Volunteering at Camp Rainbow has profoundly impacted my life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this incredible journey of empowerment and hope.
I encourage you to go out and volunteer with different organizations until you find the one that you are passionate about!
Blue Yonder offers two Volunteer Time Off days per year where associates are encouraged to go out and volunteer in their local community to make an impact!