Published Aug 23, 2018
JENNESS PARK — Volunteers help keep Jenness Park going.
Just ask Barry Lloyd, JP’s director.
“I get 30-plus years of work experience or ministry experience, a love for Christ and a love for people coming to know Christ,” Lloyd affirmed. “The volunteers at Jenness Park are priceless!”
“Their breadth of knowledge and application at camp spans maintenance, customer service, first aid and pastoral care,” he noted.
From summer workers to a volunteer who later joined the full-time staff, those who serve at JP, like Julia Berryman, say they are grateful for the opportunity.
“We’re working really, really, really hard, nine to ten hours a day,” Berryman said, “but I love it.”
A member of Sequoia Heights Baptist Church in Manteca, she is a school teacher who served for 10 years as director of “district camps” at JP. The original three associations that owned Jenness Park hold their own events each summer for children and youth.
Berryman said that, since she has summers free, staying home can become boring.
“You can buy plants and decorate your house, but you can’t invest in kids.”
Berryman said one of her favorite parts of serving at camp is hearing the students’ stories in chapel gatherings, and “interacting with the kids.”
She added she’s “so thankful to be able to give back to a ministry like Jenness Park that’s given so much to me over the years.”
Rhonda Tingle feels the same way. She volunteered one week one summer when her grandson was at camp, and enjoyed it so much she decided to serve for a whole summer.
“I saw how God blessed it,” Tingle said of Jenness Park.
She is working this year in the kitchen, helping prepare and serve meals for the hundreds of campers who attend CentriKid and FUGE camps, as well as other campers.
“It’s a great group of kids they bring to work in the kitchen,” Tingle said, acknowledging that the work is hard, but rewarding.
Her favorite part of the summer is the “bell-ringing on Saturday. It’s the highlight of the week,” she said of the “ceremony” when campers ring a special bell to signify that they’ve made a profession of faith in Christ during camp.
Like Berryman and Tingle, Charles Reeves was a summer volunteer for three years. But some five years ago, he moved into a full-time position at JP.
He has served in different roles, but the area in which he has worked most is the accommodations team.
In 2011, at age 19, his mother encouraged him to volunteer for the summer, and he felt as though JP was where God was calling him.
“Barry was the person who my mother talked to, to get me here,” Reeves said. “Then when Barry got a promotion, he hired me to be staff and he has been my mentor.”
In the time Reeves has served at JP he hopes that in some way every person who has come through the camp he was able to impact.
Reeves said he has grown in many ways and now, with his wife of a year-and-a-half, he believes his time at Jenness Park has come to an end.
“The same reason I’m here is the same reason I’m leaving — because God called me,” Reeves said.
He added that over his last year at JP he has felt God tell him, “I want you to prepare.” He is unsure what he has been preparing for, but he has faithfully listened.
As the summer camping season closes, so does Reeves’ time there. He will move with his wife, who has a job at a school in Colorado, and wait to see what God has prepared for them.
“The volunteers at Jenness Park are a great asset to the ministry as a whole,” Lloyd said of the variety of those who serve. “We love them!”