AmeriCorps recruits summer volunteers for youth camp

AmeriCorps members Julie Engle and Nicole Fogg talk to members of WU's Sigma Alpha Iota chapter about volunteering at Forest Park's free summer day camp. 

Jessica Knieff

A free K-5 summer day camp and meal program will be offered Monday through Friday, June 12-30 at Forest Park with the support of one of Forest Park’s AmeriCorps team.

In conjunction with Harvesters and Unified School District 501, two full meals a day, an afternoon snack, and a “Back Snack” food kit for the weekends will be offered for the entirety of the three week camp.

The camp will accommodate around 100 campers– which creates a great need for volunteers. AmeriCorps members, Julie Engle and Nicole Fogg have been recruiting individuals and groups around the Topeka community to help with this initiative.

Engle and Fogg presented to Sigma Alpha Iota, a women’s music fraternity at Washburn University, on May 12 in order to recruit volunteers from their organization.

“Volunteers are important for our summer day camp specifically because Forest Park has a very small staff and needs additional support,” Engle said.

She stressed the importance of having volunteers to make this camp a reality. At some point, they hope to have a steady volunteer base so that the camp can run for the entire duration of the summer.

“Being able to serve others gives me a sense of purpose, to contribute to a vision bigger than myself,” Engle said.

There are opportunities for any person over the age of 14 that passes a basic background check to volunteer at the camp. The AmeriCorps team says this is a great opportunity to build a resume, to fulfill required service hours, and to give back to the community.

“If it is something you’re interested in, it doesn’t have to be a full three week commitment,” Fogg said.

Fogg said that morning registration, end of day checkout, and mealtimes are the busiest times, and part-time volunteers can come help for those portions of the day specifically. However, volunteering does not have to be limited to these parts of the day.

Fogg says they are open to organizations with special interests or skills to facilitate activities. Following the presentation to Sigma Alpha Iota, the music fraternity agreed to host a “make your own instrument” activity at the camp.

“This is a great opportunity for our chapter to get involved with the community and allow the women in our chapter to put their skills to work,” said Emily Miller, Sigma Alpha Iota’s philanthropy chairwoman.

According to Fogg, the camp hopes to give the kids information about other services and resources available to them in the community. A few examples of other presentations that the campers will experience are a “How to Ride” lesson from Topeka Metro – since the company opens bus rides for free to kids in the summer – and an anti-bullying seminar from the YWCA.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to attend at least one of two volunteer training dates. These will be held at Forest Park on May 26 and June 3, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. To sign up as a volunteer or to request additional information, contact Junie Engle at [email protected].