I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes
Camp Andrew Jackson, the CAP summer camp at which I am placed, has been under construction since I arrived. When I first got here in August, the office building, where I’d been interviewed as a perspective, was only a shell of its former self. The inside had been torn out and basically all that was left were the outside walls. The spaces above the cafeteria and camper dorms were being remodeled for use as office space. The first few weeks I was here it seemed like all we did was move stuff back and forth. We had a giant trailer to keep some of what had been stored in the office, but we were also using the cafeteria and dorms as storage, moving pillows and towels from place to place as we needed the space it was occupying. For a few days it was impossible to sit in the cafeteria because of the pounding from above and the showers of sawdust that followed. Another day I got to rip out trim in the area that has become my office.
Before long, the former office building was just a pile of rubble, and soon after it was a foundation. Then, in October, a group from Fox Valley in Wisconsin came and built the new building (a counselor dorm, paid for by a grant CAP had received). After Fox Valley left, various Housing crews put on the siding. Even before Christmas, the outside looked complete. The inside, of course, was another story. CAP maintenance and various others have been working tirelessly on the wiring, plumbing, tile, drywall and other things that go into building a building that I know nothing about. You can see pictures of Fox Valley’s work and other parts of the Camp AJ renovation here.
Last month, I got to help paint the inside walls. Liz (my manager) recruited help from various other CAP programs and it was really awesome to see everyone come together to help complete the building. The dorm is still not finished, but every day it gets a little bit closer. Friday when I went in I saw that the cabinets had been put in the kitchen, the stairs had been carpeted, and there were fans hanging on the outside decks. I spent the afternoon teaching, and by the time I got back the sink and microwave were installed in the kitchen and the vanities were in the bathrooms.
The process of constructing a building is really incredible to me. Obviously, I knew that it was more than just putting up walls and slapping on some paint, but it’s been really enlightening to watch this building go up. It’s about the closest that we humans can get to making something from nothing. (Because let’s face it, most of us could not take boards and nails and make them into a safe, functioning building.) In the grand scheme of things I contributed very little to this building project (cleaning up drywall dust, painting a stairwell and painting some window trim), but it’s a very cool feeling to look at the stairwell and think “If it weren’t for me, this wall would not be this color.” I don’t think I’d ever be able volunteer for a year in Housing like some of my housemates (I’m too much of a wimp about the weather), but I am looking forward to WorkFest (a building blitz we have in March with about 400 college students)t and the opportunity to create something for someone who really needs it.
Erin C. is a long-term volunteer in Educational and Recreational Programming. She is a member of the Jackson Volunteer Community.