Volunteers indispensable to JP ministry

Published Sep 02, 2015

JENNESS PARK — At Jenness Park, just like in a local church, volunteers aren’t only nice — they’re indispensable.

In the middle weeks of this summer, for example, volunteers are providing work that’s the equivalent of six full-time employees, explained Barry Lloyd, Jenness Park director.

By May of this year, the camp had realized at least $8,000 in savings thanks to volunteer labor, Lloyd estimated. That’s 900-plus staff hours.

“I tell my staff often, ‘There’s no way we could do what we do if they were not here to help us,’” he said. “Our volunteers are immeasurably valuable for the ministry of the camp.”

Who volunteers?
Volunteers at the California Southern Baptist Convention-owned camp and conference center include middle- and high school students, people in their 70s and 80s, youth groups, men’s and women’s groups, church and association groups, individuals and families, and even “RV missionaries” — couples, usually older, who set up their RV at Jenness Park and stay two to 10 weeks offering assistance.

What types of work do volunteers do?
They come to shovel snow, rake up enormous piles of pine needles, sort and organize files, wash windows, paint, winterize buildings, and prepare sweet tea for all the native Southerners who work at CentriFuge student camps. They do landscaping, plumbing, electrical work, tiling, window installation, masonry, carpentry, camper registration, housekeeping, HVAC, and every manner of repair and maintenance imaginable.

In return, Lloyd and his staff house them (unless they bring their own RV, in the case of Campers on Mission and others), feed them, train them as needed, provide them with appropriate and meaningful work opportunities — and thank them profusely.

“They are simply a phenomenal work force for us,” said Lloyd, who tracks the number of volunteers and volunteer hours. “We just put in a new shower, new toilet and new tile work in one of our cabins, and it was majority volunteer labor.

“We were given some new double-pane windows but didn’t have the staff time to install them. Three were installed by volunteers, then deep-cleaned and painted by more volunteers.

“Our new water tank — primarily volunteers. An Anglican church comes each March and shovels snow. A women’s ministry comes each December and helps with Christmas baskets that we give to staff and vendors.

“One of our RV missionaries, Ed, who is about 80, not only works with our summer staff boys but mentors and disciples them too,” Lloyd said.

How does one become a volunteer
Jenness Park does have an online volunteer application and some basic requirements: volunteers should have their own insurance (the park provides some but it is limited), should be healthy, and should pledge to provide at least four hours of assistance per day. Park staff offer some training, based on the volunteer’s skill set, and they try hard to match the volunteer’s skills with the park’s needs.

And of course there is an appreciation dinner to say thanks as well.

“All the things they do — it’s simply amazing,” Lloyd said.

For information about volunteering or camp/retreat opportunities at Jenness Park call 800-258-7554 or visit www.jennesspark.com.