Why Volunteer?

From a Bunch of Students to an Organisation – Attila

Attila is a member of the Communication and Branding team. He joined our team in 2016, since then he participated in four camps (Litke 2016, Agárd 2016, Litke 2017, Dunabogdány 2017). When he isn’t taking care of children at Knapsack Camps, he studies Computer Science at BME (Budapest University of Technology and Economics), plays the piano, exercises, or sunbathes. Here are his recollections of his first experiences with Knapsack Camps.

One day, a friend of mine asked me if I would like to volunteer with children over the summer. I asked them what that meant exactly, but their reply at the time seemed to me to only cover the “physical” aspects of the matter. However, I thought that it would be fun to get to know a couple of new faces, not to mention that I would have the opportunity to challenge myself in a situation that I hadn’t encountered before. I didn’t know any of the team apart from my friend, the only information I had was that a couple of girls had procured money in the US and were spending it on improving children’s lives.

I soon realised that this wasn’t just any other summer camp put together in two days, but the result of many months of organisation, program planning, the reconciliation and collation of programs into a general framework, logistical planning, and that still, there was a lot more to be done. My friend and I planned our own project, we obtained the equipment for it, we had complete freedom and enthusiastic “colleagues”. I quickly fell in love with the people and the atmosphere here. Later, the organisation and planning continued in a larger group, and I slowly got to know everyone. It was extraordinary to observe how so many people from such diverse backgrounds could create a camp, such as this one, brimming with projects and activities.

When we arrived at the first location, I was nervous and curious. But, as the days went by, and I got to know the children, my memory was filled with splendidly implemented programs both outdoors, in great weather, and indoors. Meanwhile, my heart was enriched by the all-embracing love, radiating from both the children and the volunteers. Such a calmness washed over me that I’ve rarely experienced in my life (exactly once so far 😀 ). Unfortunately, since then I couldn’t recreate the same experience in any of the camps, but I did gather strength from these experiences, and I had the opportunity to further improve my methods and consequently myself.

Having gotten to know these children, their parents, their living conditions, and the way they lived regardless, helped improve my view of the world. On my way here, I was expecting to meet vastly different children. The children I imagined weren’t the lively and energetic group I had the pleasure of spending time with in the end.

The good vibes and memories endured, however the foundation had to evolve. Slowly the number of volunteers swelled from the initial dozen to about 60 people. Accordingly, the organisation had to transform, it was no longer possible to maintain the same democracy that characterised it before. So, positions of responsibility were created, group directors were appointed, the company was split into more isolated divisions, a “main decision-making body” was formed. All in all, it turned out very well. Organisationally speaking I feel like I’m part of a large firm. 😀 In my opinion this didn’t have a negative impact on the work. It remains just as exciting and enjoyable as it was in the beginning.

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