Monday, October 4, 2021

2014 - Leadership From Volunteers

Blake pictured 2nd row, arms crossed with baseball cap.

(Fifty Nifty Years in the United States Series)

I have always admired volunteers. I have always had dedicated volunteers. Then there was Blake. Our first meeting was at a fund raising reception in downtown Buffalo and we talked for at least two hours about all things camp. It set the tone for how we communicate.

Most conversations with Blake were all about our common cause, which was the Y camp. We would stroll into other topics like Bugs Bunny, Bigfoot and Oak Island and in an uncanny manner; Blake would always be on message in regards to the cause. “Always be closing” was a term he and I threw around like playing catch. John Maxwell talks about legacy in a recent podcast and it occurs to me that this is Blake's legacy to all.

I have been fortunate to work with George Finnerty at Bluff Lake (And a previous BLOG); Brad Billings at Camp Edwards; Deanna Hudson Edwards at Indian Springs. Each, along with Blake, came to their respective camp before me and each was unique volunteers. They all came and stayed at camp as volunteers.

Brad and Blake always brought their own cabin (trailer) to not take up any room, but also to have their own comfort. I had a Y director ask me once, if I thought it was unusual for someone to come and spend a week or more (sometimes a month) at camp volunteering. It showed me two things. A lack of understanding on their part as to what volunteerism looks like and can be from a true volunteer.

And secondly, it shows a devotion to a cause that Don Quixote infers that you are willing to give up your own comfort “without question or pause.”

Blake was always willing to share, lead, follow or get out of the way. He showed up and gave and gave. In just one example of his service and support. When seeing a lack of understanding on the part of what our food service’s mission truly was (the clue is in the 2nd word “service”) Blake took on specialized training to help support that staff. Our coordinated effort led in a turn-over of staff and in turn led to improved programming in food service from meals to cleanliness to systems.

There are few people (who are not in camping) in the world that understand some of the basics of the camping world and then know how to apply them into practice. I found this in Blake and he helped bring systematic change. He has the great ability to see past the "flocculent" and get to what matters most.

Blake also led our Board, raised money, found new resources, helped develop curriculum and gave tirelessly. There is Daffy Duck cartoon where the bad guy character is named “Shropshire Slasher.” (Check it out at the 2 minute five second mark of this video) Upon being investigated by the dimwit character (played by Daffy) of “Dorlock Holmes” the bad guy also states his occupation is “Shropshire Slasher.”

While Blake and I admire the subtly of this humor; I also think of Blake Walker as just that in his role as a volunteer. I am so grateful for Blake and those I mentioned earlier. They teach and lead and give and teach others to lead and give.

"where only good prevails"


In my 50 plus years in these United States, I am especially grateful for Blake and those like him whose occupation is simply to be “Blake Walker.”

I am also grateful for being part of the second era of Blake and I look forward to hearing about the successes of the third era. Onward!


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