Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Workcamp Nuts and Bolts

By Josh Wilson, Intern

After a programming and Workcamps committee meeting we had last month, it really made us here at William Penn House continue to evaluate the nuts and bolts of what a Workcamp is. While everything listed here certainly helps to make a Workcamp experience great, I can’t account for every Workcamp ever, so you’ll just have to bear with me. So what makes a great Workcamp experience? Well I am glad you asked that, dear reader.

A Workcamp in its truest and best form, I feel, is sort of like a crash course in how to form a community. Through all the sweat and work that they consist of, Workcamps truly compel us to recognize our common humanity. First of all, no one looks good while sweating doing gardening work or fixing a house. Old ugly clothes that are meant to be ruined certainly diminish any need or fear of superficial comparisons. Alongside ugly clothes, however, you’re going to have to pack whole case of humble pie. As with the most-likely home-cooked meals meant to fill ten to twenty people, you’re going to be eating plenty of it. Through the experience you’re going to learn that not all of your complaints are best for the group and that sometimes, the needs of someone else are connected with your own.

Secondly it is important to recognize that we as individuals have our own needs. Through recognizing our needs and those we serve, we can truly begin to piece together the human experience that we all share. During one Workcamp, we all gathered together for some worship sharing. One of our campers then said something quite enlightening, she stated that it’s nice to care for someone else for a change, but also it is better to recognize that sometimes its good to let others care for you too. By recognizing your own needs, you recognize your space in the community. By recognizing what it is you truly need and not just what you want, you’ll be a better member to the group.

Another important thing to know is to go into the experience with an open mind. Know that we all can learn something from almost any experience. With this in mind, soon you’ll realize that the unexpected is going to happen. Maybe that job you really hated at the beginning becomes something you start to relish at the end. We often help an older gentleman who is almost entirely dependent on a wheel chair. His house is a little old and he is rather soft spoken. During one Workcamp, some of the kids asked him more about his background and through further conversations we came to learn that he had been a cryptographer during the Cold War and had a slew of interesting stories. By opening up and allowing yourself to receive sometimes you might just find something new and exciting you never thought possible. 

Finally, keep in mind the things you learn in a Workcamp all lead to something greater in your life down the line. I once read that no matter how mundane something you do or read is, it all leads to something later on in your life as really useful knowledge. In the end all the information you pick up is going to contribute to your personality.  While you might not achieve individual perfection today, we at William Penn House hope it brings you a little closer to the kind of person you’d like to be. In the end what you put into the experience is what you’ll get out of it. Spiritually and experientially, with effort and motivation you’ll find the experience much more enjoyable when you put your heart into it. 

A good Workcamp will change you, and a good Workcamp will help you to truly recognize your place at the multi-faceted national and local level. An amazing Workcamp will help you to connect with the individuals you serve as well as to create strong bonds with those you do service.

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