CAMDEN Accessible Playground

Our volunteers came from all walks of life. To start out with, we went to as many of the service organizations as we found in Rock County, giving speeches to each of them. We told of our project and kept them updated with letters as to when our build would take place, or by news releases.

We also visited the Rock County grade schools and got ideas from the children there for the playground, which in turn got the parents involved. We spoke to the high schools to get help from their home-ec, woodworking departments and other trade skills departments on the build. We visited churches to get their aid in making food for the builds as well as local restaurants and bakeries.

We went to the local jail and spoke to the Sheriff about having those who could do work release to spend some of their time helping out at the playground build. This would not only help us but would enable them to get experience to perhaps jobs once released. And this did work, many did obtain jobs from those they worked this on the playground build.

Camden Playground was all volunteer built, with over 3,000 volunteers. We had it very organized, with groups, and people set up in charge of each group, so those in the groups knew exactly what they were to be doing. There was no arguing and everything ran smoothly.

People came in, signed up and then reported to their areas as they came. We knew when they came in what skills, if any, they had. If they didn't they were sent to an area where they could learn best or help out the most. Each was given meals when the time came, a buffet sort of meal, and something to drink at lunch and supper, and there was always something to drink during the day and snacks if needed.

When they had to leave, they signed out and went home. There was no time limit as to how long they had to work, it was all voluntary, but if they worked a certain amount of hours, we did give them a Camden Volunteer t-shirt.

Many classes came from schools and for the children, they were put into an area which was roped off where they could soap screws, which helped tremendously when it came time to put the screws into the wood for the ramping system, and it made the children feel a large part of the build. They also help put the screws into boxes according to size, another thing that helped up a lot during the build and kept our workers from having to do this on their own.

Those skilled with tools were immediately put to work with those, and, of course, all safety equipment was used at all times. There were no major injuries, and only minor slivers, a couple of cuts, but that was about all. It was a very safe workplace.

Many businesses volunteered their time and brought in their machinery to work with us, and the National Guard brought in their heavy machinery to flatten down the area for us which saved us a lot of time and money. They also built a knoll in front of the stage for a seating area.

So to get volunteers:

1-know what you are going to be building, gather information;

2-Visit service clubs, schools, churches, youth groups, and any place which may have an interest in what you are trying to build. Let them know your needs and speak to them. Keep them informed up until the build and tell them when the build will take place a month, then each week before the build. Send them the time, date, and all information needed, and possibly send them a sign-up paper with a self-addressed stamped envelope to return it in;

3-Do not forget work-release programs at your local jails but remember they also have to have an officer there to watch the ones who work there;

4-Make sure to provide food, drink, and snacks for all who work, they will be hungry and since they are volunteering, you will get more volunteers if you have something to offer them. Also, if you have no restrooms nearby, you will have to get porta-potty's. Also, a place which is shaded and picnic tables should be available for them;

5-Try to have phone access in case of emergencies;

6-Medical supplies, make sure you have them available, and a nurse or someone with medical knowledge;

7-But most of all, be pleasant to your workers, welcome them each day with a smile, and those working for you will enjoy what they are doing.

So get out there and get your volunteers, and most of all, enjoy your help. Make sure you thank them afterward, whether it be a letter in the newspaper, or do as we did, send out individual letters to them, they will appreciate it and remember for the next time you need them.