The Great Plains Conference’s Volunteers in Mission team started their 2023 season off on a roll.
“We got an unbelievable amount of stuff done,” co-chair Linda Buchmueller said of the work done at Camp Horizon from April 16-21. “We started off with one list and by Monday evening the team leader was asking Joel (Wilke, camp director) for a second list. By the time we got to the end of the week we were on list No. 4.”
VIMs, she said, are just as gratified by completing a lot of small projects as they are a handful of larger jobs.
“Sometimes it’s nice to have a major project, but others it’s nice to have some little things that need to be done,” she said.
Buchmueller and her husband, Chuck, both of whom began volunteering in 2009, are now the co-leaders of the Great Plains VIMs, succeeding longtime director Marlin Brown, who volunteered for 27 years.
One of the largest volunteer groups of the year – this year, 18 – showed up for Camp Horizon, the Pratt couple said, since it’s the closest to Wichita, where many of them live.
Camp Horizon was the first of six projects for the year for the VIMs. The rest of the summer includes Ember Hope/Youthville, Camp Chippewa, Buckhorn Camp in Colorado, Camp Norwesca, Camp Lakeside and the Alpha Christian Children’s Home in Perry, Kansas. Other volunteer opportunities are available here.
While most of the volunteers were there the entire six days, one was present for only one – which is fine by Buchmueller.
“That’s about seven hours more work than we would have had if she had not been able to come,” she said.
There are jobs available for all skill levels, Chuck Buchmueller said.
“A lot of the jobs we do are two- and three-people type jobs, and (the locations) only have one maintenance person,” he said. “They can do it, but it’ll take four or five days where we can get it done in just a day or two.”
The schedule is generally Tuesday morning through noon Saturday, and Linda Buchmueller said a variation in that schedule might begin next year to give a full day’s work on Saturday.
“We would welcome anyone who wants to contact us and voice their opinion whether they want to do one of these,” she said. “Maybe we could work a little harder in trying to get a split week.”
The group, almost entirely retirees, wants to open itself up to all ages.
“Most of our youngest ones are already in our 70s, and this is maybe a 15-year opportunity to draw from,” Linda Buchmueller said. “By the time most get to around 80 – we do have a couple that are in their mid-80s that are involved – but things start to slow down. We’re just not getting the younger set, the newer retirees.”
All ages are welcome, Chuck Buchmueller added.
“If we get weekend-type things set up, as long as they’re good, reliable workers, we don’t care what their age is when they show up on the site,” he said. “We realize that a lot of people who want to come out still have a job.”
While getting volunteers for any organization is difficult these days, she said, some people might shy away because they don’t think they could handle the work or the hours.
“A lot of times people are concerned that they might not be able to do it,” she said. “I would like to stress that you work at your pace that you’re comfortable at, and you take a break. We’re not clock punchers. We just do what we can do. There’s some who work the morning and take the afternoon off if they need to.”
Each site varies in what kind of accommodations are available for volunteers, and each has hookups for recreational vehicles, Linda Buchmueller said.
For each work site, a $150 per-person registration fee is required, which all goes to the camp or agency, sometimes to purchase the necessary supplies.
“Many of the ministries we work at are on a very tight budget and they need the work project done but may not have the finances for some of the materials,” Linda Buchmueller said.
Those interested in Volunteers in Mission can contact the Buchmuellers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-770-0411.
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