25 Stories: Liam McDougall

Camp Counselor and Leadership Staff (2008-present)

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I didn’t know anything about Camp or One Heartland until early 2008 when I received a skype call from the then-new Camp Director Jill Rudolph and, as they say, the rest is history! But if you really want to hear the rest of it I applied through an organization called ‘Camp America’, a middle man of sorts where I filled in my skills and experience, what I was looking for in a camp and then camps in America would search and hire staff to help bring a little European flair to their summer experiences.

I still to this day can’t believe my luck when I received that call and was offered the chance to come and volunteer with One Heartland. It’s not always easy and the work is long and draining no matter how much fun I had but it continues to fill my memories with happiness and laughter. Proving time and again to be one of the most worthwhile causes I’ve come across.  So much so that I continued to return year after year trying to help in any way I could, to keep having fun and putting smiles on faces and honestly, to see my newly adopted ‘family’ grow and just be happy!

“One of the greatest pleasures I got from camp was the chance to see these campers grow into young adults, into staff members and into my brothers and sisters who still impress me to this day.”

I’ve just booted up my hard drive to try and help narrow down my ‘favourite’ memory but it’s just not possible, and it’s not fair to you reading to take up days and days of your time filling you with them but I can safely give you a little of what to expect.

Expect to find a group of staff who will love you for you and even encourage you to be more yourself than you ever thought a group would want! A group of truly caring and passionate people who work hard and put their souls into every aspect of the camp and the campers. People I’ve learnt from and aspire to be like even now and friends who became close enough to take up my daily well wishes all these years later, no matter the distance.

Expect to greet, meet, laugh with, sing for, talk to, lose at Ga-ga, teach, lead, cry with and hug some of the bravest and toughest young people you could imagine. Participants who taught me so much and helped put things into perspective. It will break your heart to see them go even after just 5 days but it will also make you feel incredible when they return the next year to remind you of that time they got to throw a water balloon at you! One of the greatest pleasures I got from camp was the chance to see these campers grow into young adults, into staff members and into my brothers and sisters who still impress me to this day.

And at a personal level? Expect to be challenged and to learn about yourself in new ways, to learn how hard you can truly work and a dozen new skills ranging from teamwork and leadership to climbing or life guarding. Expect to be reminded that no matter what background, race, gender or upbringing, we are all stronger together. And that happiness flows in a circular motion and love is like a little boat upon the sea! 

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