Volunteers: The New Breed- Final Installment

01 Dec

Volunteers: The New Breed- Final Installment - Countryside Christian Camp

“Do you have something I can do that would take just 40 hours?

How many of you have heard this question, or have been asked this question by any number of high school aged students?

Better yet, how many of you have heard it put this way: “I only have one Saturday free this month. Do you have any volunteer opportunities I can use to meet this requirement?”

Although, it is a good idea for high school students to get 40 hours of volunteer service completed before they graduate, I find that creating an experience that is positive for both the organization and the student is very difficult.

Together, we have covered the first six seismic shifts: Family Dynamics, Isolation, Flexibility, Generations, Technology, and Professionalism.

In today’s blog, I will complete the study of the list of 10 seismic shifts in our culture that help us better understand the New Breed of Volunteer that is so necessary in all our organizations.

In this final installment, we will touch on the last four shifts: Episodic Volunteering, Micro-Volunteering, Slacktivism, and Speed.

Seismic Shift 7 & 8
Episodic Volunteering: From Long-Term Commitments to Short-Term Projects

The term Episodic Volunteer was coined in 1989 in a study by the Corporation for Community and National Science. According to their finding, episodic volunteering (serving 99 or fewer volunteer hours in a year) has increased since 1989, and is largely due to the 40 hours required by school boards for their graduating students.

The survey also showed that 79% of non-volunteers said that they would volunteer if given a short-duration task. Jonathan and Thomas McKee suggest that volunteer coordinators take advantage of these episodic volunteers as a “first date”, as it may give prospective volunteers a taste of who we are and why we do the things we do.

At Camp Shalom, we have found that young volunteers (16-18 years of age) serve well when they understand their volunteer role and the team dynamic in which they will be assigned; whether that is on Program, in Food Service, or in the Maintenance Department.

We have become creative in the opportunities that we have developed for the volunteer serving for one day and the volunteer serving for a month. For example, our Special Needs programs can use up to 10 to 12 volunteers each week in order to assist with guest needs including:

  • Transportation (pushing a guest in a wheelchair from building to building or activity when they are tired)
  • Relief Worker (monitoring the guests throughout the daily activities for the full-time seasonal staff)
  • Support Worker (assisting the seasonal staff with the hygienic care and spiritual development of each guest).
  • Food service needs vary week to week but generally one or two volunteers are needed as utility servers, dining room personnel, dishwashers, and prep cooks.
  • Maintenance Staff needs also vary week to week depending upon the project list and the weather. Support requires grounds workers, painters, labourers, and even contractors throughout the busy summer season, and year round.

Micro-Volunteering: From Big-Time Commitments to Bite-Sized Projects

Micro-Volunteering is a byproduct of the smartphone. Since 2011, people spend more time on their mobile apps than on web browsers on their PCs. Everything is now done on-the-go from a handheld device.

So how can we take advantage of this growing arena of “mobile time”? Is it possible to harness the minutes waiting in line, or while sitting and waiting for an appointment that add up to hours of volunteer time?

One way we have used this trend has been to develop and implement customer feedback surveys that are mobile-friendly and take only a few minutes to answer. At Camp Shalom, we went from four responses in 2016 using our traditional survey forms, to nearly 200 responses using the newly re-designed survey forms. This proved to be a great use of the “waiting” minutes trend of Micro-Volunteering. In just a few minutes the client felt empowered and valued by being given the opportunity to help us evaluate our programs.

Seismic Shift 9
Slacktivism- From Hard Work to Easy, Feel-Good Tasks

Jonathan and Thomas penned this oxymoron from two words, slacker and activism. They define Slacktivism as the ultimate feel-good that comes from the desire to give back to society without actually getting one’s hands dirty.

Examples of Slacktivism might include signing internet petitions, wearing a wristband (awareness bracelet), putting a ribbon on a vehicle, joining a Facebook group, taking part in a short-term boycott, making a small donation for a cause with the click of your mouse, or making a disaster relief donation to any number of humanitarian causes during hurricane season by TEXTing a word through your cell phone.

In recent years, the American Red Cross had received well over $32 million through TEXTing word ‘Haiti’. Although I don’t agree with the word, I love the results it generates and so must those living in the path of recent hurricanes.

Maybe you will soon see a trending social media campaign that focuses your attention and financial support on our Stand in the Gap sponsorship program by TEXTing the acronym “SITG”.

Seismic Shift 10
Speed- From Slow Movements to Fast Responses to Change

How fast…How quickly…How long…? Change is the norm these days. How are you adapting for it? Or, are you adapting to it?

I love the last two questions. The first question is proactive and the latter is reactive.

I would rather be proactive. How about you?

I believe this is the one seismic shift that takes vision and ferocity to achieve. Volunteers want to see results fast, and although that may be possible when cutting the grass behind Drost Lodge, or baking 22,000 Christmas cookies, it may not be possible in other areas of this ministry. Discipleship is not a quick you-got-it-done process. Relationships take time and nurturing takes love.

Our passion at Countryside Camp and Conference Centre is to point and empower people to Jesus Christ. Pointing people to Christ is vital and founded in the testimony and witness of our staff.

Empowering is how we educate, train, support, and encourage our staff in delivering the exciting experiences at camp. Ultimately, our focus is connecting the culture to Christ and that is an ever-changing continuum.

As we finish the series this month, I hope you will be able to identify some of these seismic shifts within your own ministries, or service organizations, and begin recruiting this new breed of volunteer that is ready, willing, and eager to serve.


Tim Partridge
Managing Director

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