Jamie Heller: Outstanding Alumni Volunteer 2017
Jamie Heller is the proud recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Volunteer for 2017! We interviewed her to find out more about her experience with Swift.
Q: How long have you been involved with Swift?
Jamie: 23 years
Q: What is your favorite Camp Swift activity?
Jamie: Values programs
Q: What is your favorite thing to eat at Camp Swift?
Jamie: Salad Bar
Q: What is your greatest/most memorable experience with Swift?
Jamie: Participating in the trust fall activity on the ropes course with a youngest boys cabin when the capers caught a male counselor that was much bigger than all of the campers. Then, observing the campers' faces that showed their accomplishment, self-confidence, and ability to successfully complete an activity they thought was impossible.
Q: What has Swift given you that makes giving back to the organization worth your while?
Jamie: Swift has given me a greater appreciation for Mitzvot and Tikkun Olam, unforgettable memories, leadership and mentoring skills, and a passion/dedication for helping/mentoring under-served youth.
Beatriz Morales #ShareSwift
A Camp Swift flyer at my school is all that it took for me to have thousands of flash backs about my experience as a camper at Camp Swift. I never knew that Camp Swift was going to shape who I am now.
Special thank you to Allison Stachel for contributing this blog post!
I remember the first time I heard the words “Camp Swift” as an eleven year old girl waiting to pick up her brother up after his first summer volunteering. “Camp Swift,” the place where I had the opportunity four years later to be counselor for four different groups. “Camp Swift,” the place where I found my passion for helping economically disadvantaged youth. “Camp Swift” the two words that I say when people ask me why I changed my major to Education to become a teacher at a Title 1 school.
When I was a senior in high school, I dedicated a month of my year towards raising money for the Swift Youth Foundation through the AZ Gives campaign. When I made a fundraising page I was not only raising money to give children a fun and safe summer, but also a fair and equal chance in this world. While receiving help from my friends, family and community, I was able to raise enough money to send three campers to camp. When I returned to camp the following year, I came across three twelve-year-old campers that influenced my life.
Camper 1: He had a huge fear of boats.
When it was our time to canoe he refused to go near the water. I pretended that I was practically a professional canoer when I was younger and that we would go on the boat together and be perfectly fine. Little did this camper know that I had a huge fear of boats and always tried to convince myself out of getting on any kind of boat. After the camper finally agreed to get on the boat, it took only ten minutes into the canoe ride for the camper to thank me for helping him overcome his biggest fear.
Camper 2: He thought he was not strong enough.
When our group activity was on the rock climbing wall most of my campers grew full of excitement. However, for this camper he did not want to try because he thought he could not reach the top. For about a half an hour this camper held onto the wall and chose not to give up. Instead of begging to come down when he thought he hit his limit, the camper kept going and touched the top of the wall. This camper approached the rest of the activities we had with a new braveness that he had never seen before.
Camper 3: He felt as if he was not able to contribute a team as much as most people could.
When we played a large game of Capture the Flag with nearly fifty other people, this camper did not think he would be able to help the team win. He thought that he was not capable enough to be on the offense and steal the flag. However, this camper was able to realize how capable he was because he helped score the winning point. Now this camper knows that he truly serves a purpose in this world.
Three children, that due to the money that I helped raise, were able to receive influential and life changing experiences. Three children that inspired me to want to change lives in an educational environment as my everyday job. Three children amongst a group of ten boys that put aside their pride by showing true happiness when they lost a soccer game to a cabin of girls who played hard achieve their dream of winning. Ten boys among many children that had their lives changed because of the Swift Youth Foundation. Thousands of children that we can now rely on to change the world and turn it into an inclusive and positive one.
To donate and/or get involved in AZ Gives Day, visit AZ Gives!
Each year before the holidays, the Swift Youth Foundation community adopts a class at partner school Palomino Elementary. Gifts are collected for the students, and the day before school lets out for winter break, Swift volunteers spend the afternoon with the kids doing fun activities with them and giving them their gifts.
HUGE shout out to the Chaparral Swift Club who coordinated, donated, and wrapped all of the gifts for the 3rd grade class we adopted this year, and a special thanks to The Happily Ever After League for supplementing the gifts for our class, and providing over 8 bags of toys for families in need in the Palomino community.
Check out the pics from the party! Photo Credit: Max Stein
Although I love and support Camp Swift, my story is not mine to tell, but my son’s, Seth. Seth was a counselor in one of the camp sessions that I happen to be volunteering at. He had a 10-year-old boy in his cabin that was his shadow the whole session. I could tell from a far, that this little boy was fascinated with my son and it was truly adorable to watch. All four days, I witnessed this child standing by my son, looking up to him and literally attached to his hip. I found out on the drive home, that this little boy changed my child’s perspective about other’s in a way that I could not have taught him, no matter how hard I tried.
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