The Power and Wisdom of Community
By Max Aliapoulios, Community Service Learning Community
“Relax. You’re at camp. Enjoy the adventure.” were the warm words of welcome I received first arriving at Camp Horizons. On September 1st, the Community Service Learning Community embarked on its first trip of the year to the camp, and I was truly lucky enough to be on board. Camp Horizons is a private, non-profit organization for “people who have developmental disabilities or have other challenging social and emotional needs” – A place all about giving back. We arrived early afternoon and were greeted by a Horizon’s staff leader, Amon. He thanked us ahead of time for our intention to give back and exclaimed that this trip is truly “something good”. With Amon’s blessing, and a few instructions, we were off to begin our weekend. We passed under a beautiful canopy of green trees, and made our way to the cabins.
The camping experience was under way. We began with the Learning Community’s method of making sure we were all comfortable – icebreakers. I can safely assure you that by the end we had all gotten a good laugh. We sang before lunch and dined like pigs. Amon encouraged us to eat as much as possible because “We were going to be working hard!” We received a short speech from Ronny, another Horizons staff member, who added that this weekend was about practicing “the true value of the human being”. And when you thought things couldn’t get any more motivational, Matt Farley, Associate Director for Community Outreach at UConn, gave us some important words of encouragement; “there is true power and wisdom within a community”.
We worked for two days. Cleaning, washing, lifting, moving, dusting, and really anything else we could do to prepare the camp for its next visitors. It was work we were all capable of and we completed it without hesitation. I had a chance to talk to Amon in between a work session. I couldn’t help but express to him how much it meant to me as a volunteer. There is something about helping others; you are also helping yourself. The Community Service Learning Community gave me a powerful insight; you really do get back when you give selflessly. The weekend was incredible, and went above and beyond my expectations. I am grateful to be apart of such a fantastic community and look forward to all the service to come.