Clearing trails in nearly three feet of snow is how a group of Quinnipiac students made a difference in the community during their spring break.
Five students and Vincent Contrucci, Director of Community Service, spent spring break at Camp Norwich YMCA in Northampton, Mass. The trip was sponsored by the Office of Community Service at Quinnipiac University.
Contrucci learned of the need at Camp Norwich YMCA through a connection he has with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, which had sent teams to work at the camp in the past. AmeriCorps NCCC is a volunteer service program that sends teams of volunteers across the country.
“When speaking with them about partners they had worked with in the past they indicated that Camp Norwich YMCA was a well organized partner that would have enough work for and know how to manage a team of volunteers for a week,” Contrucci said.
The camp is 220 acres of wooded land, and it was the group’s job to help clear and mark trails on the mountain for the spring and summer.
“The camp has been closed for 12 to 13 years,” Contrucci said, “and it is in the process of opening.”
The camp is a typical day camp for children between second and sixth grade who are usually from low income families.
The Quinnipiac students volunteered to help fix up the camp so that it would be ready to open for the 2008 summer. Along with developing a trail system, they helped build new walls, doorways and put new electrical lines through the woodshop due to its very poor condition.
“The walls that already existed were badly damaged and had holes and cracks in them,” said Kimberly Denny, a senior media production major. “We took pre-cut boards and fitted them around the walls, cut them to size, and placed them over the framing of the walls that existed.”
“I can’t wait for the campers to use this newly built room!” Hayes said.
A lot of the work done by the group had been put off for years.
“It was an amazing experience because the facility’s director at the camp had wanted to do all of this for the last few years, but was so busy with the more immediate jobs that he never got around to it,” said Katie Campbell, a sophomore biology major.
Each student that participated in the trip felt a great deal of self accomplishment for the work that they had done, as well as helping out those less fortunate.
“I learned how important assisting in one’s community really is,” said Megan Hayes, a sophomore occupational therapy major. “It is unbelievable how big of an impact even a small group can have.”
The group was in Massachusetts from March 9-15 and worked from 9 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m.
“It’s really rewarding to know that you’ve helped enrich someone’s life by volunteering,” Denny said. “Seeing the buildings and how run down some of them really were just made me want to work harder, so that the kids coming to the camp could have the best.”
Because of the group’s efforts the camp is closer to opening this summer and they have learned the importance of helping the community.
“We accomplished more than what was expected,” Contrucci said. “We learned more about our country and how non profit helps to form the community and sustain it.”
The students learned the importance of team work and how hard work can really pay off.
“My favorite part of the trip was working with the other students and seeing our efforts pay off,” Hayes said. “Although it was a lot of hard work, it was really an enjoyable experience.”
On the last day at Camp Norwich YMCA the students all made their own stools out of branches and tree stumps that they could take home.
“They all looked very nice and it was a nice keepsake to take home from that awesome trip,” Campbell said.
As it turned out, all the hard work paid off as it was an incredible experience for those that participated in fixing up the YMCA.
“It was by far the best spring break I’ve ever had,” Campbell said. “I met a bunch of really great people and actually did some good for people that really needed it.”