In honor of National Volunteer Month, ACA spoke with Local Council of Leaders (LCOL) volunteers about why they love volunteering for ACA, their reasons for volunteering, and why you should volunteer too.

A walk across dewy camp grounds while getting a tour and behind-the-scenes look at another camp program. Laughing and networking with fellow camp professional over dinner. A conference hall humming with the excited murmurs of the attending crowd.

These experiences — camp tours, networking events, local conferences — are organized with the help of the ACA volunteers who make up the Local Council of Leaders.

Vital to the success of regional happenings and events are the LCOL volunteers. With their help, ACA is able to pull off successful regional conferences like the Spring Leadership Conference, the Keystone Regional Retreat, and the Texoma Camp Conference. LCOL volunteers work in tandem with ACA staff to make sure regional events, committees, and accreditation visits run smoothly.

Andy “Landshark” Kimmelman says his volunteer experience with ACA has been “career-defining.”

“Many of the skills I’ve learned and practiced in volunteer roles (event planning, accreditations, organizational governance, etc.) are directly relevant to my role as a camp owner and director,” Kimmelman says. “Being a volunteer helps me feel more engaged with ACA, which in turn helps me feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the camp community.”

For Alli Faricy, volunteering in a high-impact role, like as the ACA, Northland LCOL chair, has been challenging, but rewarding.

“One of the things I like most about camp in general is that it pushes people out of their comfort zone. Volunteering can be the same,” Faricy says. “I like that it causes me to do things that I normally wouldn’t do. It has taught me more about myself than if I had stayed right in my own wheelhouse.”

Many camps have the same mission as ACA — to enrich the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience — but sometimes, when camps are competing with other local camps for the same campers, it can be easy to forget that everyone is working toward the same goal. Volunteering with the LCOL helps reiterate that mission.

“The network of friends I have built among ACA push me forward,” Faricy says. “They push my program at camp forward. They make me think about things differently. Progress. Yes, many of them are my competitors, but that competition creates space for me to get better and not become stagnant.”

Andrea Yenter, a longtime ACA volunteer who has held many roles — including ACA, Wisconsin LCOL chair, National Council of Leaders representative, standards instructor, standards visitor, volunteer engagement committee member, and more — says that the benefits of volunteering go beyond helping ACA: you’re also helping yourself.

“Remember that not only do you get to be a volunteer and serve,” Yenter says. “You will get professional development, networking opportunities, and relationships that will support you in your camp career.”

Special thanks to the ACA volunteers who contributed their thoughts and input to this blog — Alli Faricy, Andy “Landshark” Kimmelman, and Andrea Yenter

Kaley Belakovich is the communications specialist for the American Camp Association.