Role model: Teenager Abigail Christie-Veitch, background, volunteers as a junior counsellor at Olympian Camp to make an impact on Bermuda’s children. *Photo supplied
Role model: Teenager Abigail Christie-Veitch, background, volunteers as a junior counsellor at Olympian Camp to make an impact on Bermuda’s children. *Photo supplied
FRIDAY, AUGUST 26: Olympian Camp is an annual event where many teenagers and young adults are given the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of children. 

The exciting camp has been held for the last two weeks on Grace Island hosting a total of over 100 children, approximately 50 during each of the weeks.

There are 38 camp staff who volunteer their time on the island, and approximately half the staff are under the age of 18.

These teenagers work as junior counsellors, programme staff, or participate in the student work team (SWT). 

The SWT team is made up of teenagers who are often just one or two years out of camp themselves. 

The SWT programme is designed to teach teens how to serve not only the campers but also one another. 

They work in a team of eight people, and their duties include clearing tables, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, setting up games and assisting with craft time. 

It is hard work, but the team normally grows into a cohesive group that enjoys serving together.

The progression of responsibility for teenagers helping at Olympian Camp is generally two years service to SWT, and then they move up to junior counsellor and finally counsellor or programme staff.

They also develop a good work ethic and ‘other centeredness’. 

While at camp the teens also learn how to have healthy relationships with other teenagers and adults. These are relationships based on humility, love and respect.

In addition to this, the teenagers involved in the SWT team receive discipleship and mentoring from their adult leaders. 

Each evening the leaders spend time with the teens and debrief about the events of the day.

The leaders pray with them and the group discusses issues that may have come up.  Often the leaders can use such events as teaching points to help the team grow in maturity and understanding. 

The team celebrates the highlights of the day and they are encouraged to keep pressing on in their ministry. 

The day for the children is action-packed with fun games, fishing, tubing, swimming, crafts, exciting story time, songs, a powerful life-changing messages on their level each day, and food, food, and more food. 

 The teens who volunteer at camp also participate in a number of training sessions before camp begins. They are encouraged to “clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience” (Col 3:12). 

One of the SWT supervisors, Melody Lightbourne, said, “I am humbled to witness this team of young people putting Col 3:12 into action.” 

Teenager Zack Friesen stated: “My greatest highlight helping at camp was developing friendships with the campers and helping them through their problems.” 

Sometimes campers can share more about what is really going on in their lives with the junior counsellor at camp.  Part of the reason maybe because they are outside of their normal everyday environment and are able to focus on their own lives and what is going well and what needs to change.

Parent of one of the teens John Tucker stated, “My daughter who is presently a student at Berkeley signed up to volunteer for one week. Well, she went back to volunteer for one day and has decided to stay longer.  Even though it is a lot of hard work…. she just can’t seem to get enough.” 

Mary Samuels, Director of the Camp and Vice-President of Cornerstone Foundation stated: “This is a unique time when our teen leaders can really develop the art of giving on a consistent basis. They realize that life is not about being served, but rather part of being a responsible person is for them to serve others.”

Olympian Camp is under the Cornerstone Foundation this year and has been developing several partnerships with various social service agencies in Bermuda.  “Our camps would not be able to run successfully without the outstanding commitment of our teenagers.” shared Mrs. Samuels.

“They demonstrate many of the character qualities that we strive for as adults such as humility and love. The campers know that their adult and junior counsellors really love them and are committed to them, and I am truly thankful for them.

“We need volunteerism like this in our community to change the core fibre of our island and they are surely getting it here.”