May 20, 2021

Plast camp ground Vovcha Tropa seeks volunteers

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Larissa Popel

Vovcha Tropa’s brand new pool is located just beyond the pavilion.

EAST CHATHAM, N.Y. – After an unprecedented yet successful online summer camp season last year, members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization are eager to return to the open air, get reacquainted with sleeping in a tent, and, of course, reunite with their friends in person once again. Campers and counselors returning this year will be greeted by the sight of Vovcha Tropa campground’s brand new pool located just beyond the pavilion.

Summer “tabory,” or camps, will take place from July 10-24, and the Vovcha Tropa Operating Committee (known by the Ukrainian acronym OTK) is anticipating approximately 200 campers. However, in order to prepare for the return of physical camps along with counselors, kitchen staff and more, an ever-growing checklist of jobs still needs to be completed. Preparing the campground for the summer season takes more than 2,500 hours of work that begins each year in April.

The Facilities Committee continuously updates the list of jobs and prioritizes the most critical needs. The list includes hundreds of tasks – some are as simple as changing the batteries in smoke detectors, planting flowers, sweeping out barracks and cleaning up the kitchen, while other tasks involve a little more elbow grease.

“One of our biggest labor initiatives is putting up tents for our campers,” said Orest Pencak, head of inventory for OTK at Vovcha Tropa. “We put up over 60 big tents in all of our tabory. As you can imagine, this is quite a daunting task that requires a lot of help.”

The work is completed by a small team of volunteers. In addition to the set-up, wooden beams, metal stakes and the tents themselves first have to be brought in from storage and distributed to the respective camps.

“We usually look to complete this within the last few weeks before tabory start,” Mr. Pencak said.

With all the jobs to be done, OTK is looking for volunteers to help with the labor.

Membership in Plast is not a requirement and friends are welcome as there are jobs for everyone (though volunteers must be over 21). Volunteers will be contacted by e-mail for designated work weekends. Special skills are not required, but anyone having experience in carpentry, masonry, electrical work, plumbing, painting, landscaping or cleaning should note this in their e-mail. OTK will provide meals throughout the day and equip volunteers with supplies. Lodging is available for anyone wishing to stay overnight, but volunteers should bring their own sleeping bag.

Readers who would like to volunteer can e-mail Irka Pawliczko for more information: ipawliczko@yahoo.com.