Volunteering for the Kentucky YMCA / by Derek Neuland

For as long as I have been dating Nicole, I have been hearing about the various conferences the Kentucky YMCA produces. Due to my work schedules, it took me almost 2 years to finally be able to volunteer at one, LTC Bluegrass 2015. Camp Horsin' AroundIt took place at Camp Horsin' Around in Perryville, Kentucky.  When they aren't playing host to 100+ middle school kids, they are a camp for children with cancer and terminal diseases that helps them do things they can't at other camps like swim and shoot a bow and arrow.

Leadership Training Conference

From the Kentucky YMCA website:

"The Leadership Training Conference (LTC) is an inspirational and motivational experience that builds servant leaders through a focus on personal discovery and skills development. Through in-depth guided discussion, small group activities, and team building, teens hone leadership skills and explore their own values away from the pressures of their daily lives.

In a rare space where teens can truly be themselves, students have fun, forge lasting bonds with peers from throughout the Commonwealth and return home better prepared to be effective servant leaders in their home, school, and community." Y-Bags LTC 2015I was a part of the resource staff for the conference, which basically meant that I set things up and took things down to make sure everything was ready for kids when they needed them. In addition to that, I was also responsible for making photos of the conference and creating a slideshow for the closing session.

Reflective sunglasses

I had been in quite a photographic rut so this was a great way for me to do something productive while also being creative.  There were a lot of challenges when photographing the conference.  There was constant action, so it was fun trying to capture the right moments.

LTC Carnival splash

Aside from my volunteer duties, I was also there to experience something that has meant a lot to my partner for a very long time. It was really amazing to watch her in her element, leading kids in songs, and getting stuff done when it needed to.  I already knew Nicole was a strong and powerful woman, but seeing her work this conference made me fall deeper in love with her. She is amazing and inspires me to work harder everyday.

Nicole and Celia

It took me a little bit to warm up to the Kentucky YMCA culture and break out of my shell, but by the end of the 3rd day I felt right at home and didn't want it to end. It was only a couple weeks ago, and I already can't wait to volunteer at the next conference. I made a lot of new friends and I hope to make many more in the future.

Kentucky YMCA

Fire holding hands

Bonfire

The Kentucky YMCA has a really amazing program and a lot of amazing people who help run it.  I'm jealous of the people who have grown up/ are growing up in this Y culture.  It's funny how you don't realize what you missed out on as a kid until you find something like this.  Instead of wallowing in it, I plan on helping out in every way I can because I have seen how these programs can help people first hand. Kentucky YMCA LTC 2015

For more photos I took during the conference, check out the Kentucky YMCA's album on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.971880402830754.1073741902.154962231189246