For the past seven years, I’ve volunteered every summer at Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids affected by childhood cancer. I found Camp Ooch during a time in my career when I was searching for passion, creativity, and joy outside of my nine to five. I hit the jackpot and found the most magical, creative, and joyful place on earth.
Each summer I spend a week at the Muskoka camp as a counsellor, hanging out with the most incredible kids and co-counsellors. We swim, canoe, sing, craft, dance, laugh, cry, stuff our faces, and make life-long memories. And each summer I look back on the week and am overwhelmed at the fullness and perspective it brings to my personal and professional life.
The resilience and bravery of the kids reminds me what is truly important, and to cherish the special moments in life. The kids’ compassion, determination and support are awe-inspiring. They have all gone through challenges and loss that no child should ever have to experience, yet somehow they face life with grace. They teach me to be better.
Time spent giving back to a cause you are passionate about offers so much more than a sense of having “done good”. For me, it’s a reset button on my outlook on life. Difficult projects or challenging product launches are suddenly thrust into perspective when you’re canoeing with a kid who has spent the better part of her life receiving chemotherapy. Chasing fun and smiles for a week allows me to come back to work with a fresh attitude and more space to be creative and compassionate. From a business perspective, volunteering connects you with so many people outside your industry, along with those who view the world in a completely different way.
At the end of every volunteer session, my heart is full, and I can only hope to have given back as much as I have gotten out of it.
I shared my Camp Ooch experience when I started at Media Profile. I soon realized MP’s enthusiasm for volunteering matched mine, and shortly thereafter we launched iMPact Days. The program offers every employee two full days to volunteer at any organization they are passionate about. Colleagues have used this time to support animals, food banks, and homeless shelters. Previously, I had always used vacation days to cover this time away from the office. But thanks to our iMPact program, I get paid to do something that is truly life-changing.
Now, more than ever, there are people in need — and we could all use something in our lives that brings a sense of purpose and joy. Whether it’s animals, social justice, disease or anything else, there’s an organization out there that could use your time and energy. So if you’ve got any to spare, find a cause that resonates with you and dive in. You won’t regret it.