Volunteer Spotlight on Taylor Banner

Volunteer Spotlight on Taylor

Hi friends! My name is Taylor Childs and I think I might be one of the most fortunate people in the world. I’m blessed to have Experience Camps in my life and to be a part of a community with all of you!

It can be a funny thing to call yourself fortunate when talking about your connection to a grief camp, but that’s exactly how I felt after getting introduced to Experience Camps and volunteering in Maine (shoutout to all my ManEx campers and staff!) back in 2016, and it’s how I continue to feel every single day.

When my dad died in 2015, after a 9+ year on-and-off battle with Pancreatic Cancer, my world was flipped upside down; I felt like I was in a void, never comfortable with where I was at. Even though I still had lots of close/supportive family and friends, I just never felt “right”. It’s certainly a difficult feeling to describe and a pretty crappy feeling to try to manage.

I spent a lot of time trying to find something to commit myself to. I volunteered and fundraised with some larger organizations, all with incredible missions and people, but none of them were quite the right fit for me. I knew I wanted something more tangible, something that you could point to and see an impact. As it turned out, my girlfriend at the time (now wife!) worked for a company whose founder, Wiley Cerilli, was an early volunteer and a massive advocate for Experience Camps!

That first week of volunteering in 2016 was a week that transformed my life. I was expecting it to be a fun week and I figured I would leave feeling like the camp made a solid impact for many of the kids… boy oh boy did I set the bar WAY too low! 

Taylor cheering a kid on doing tug of war

The “Magic of Camp” is as hard to explain to someone as it is to actually bottle it. It’s something you have to experience for yourself – and you can only truly experience it if you immerse yourself in a week of camp. You’ve got to eat the s’mores, take a turn on the pudding slide, cheer on your bunk in the talent show and cry while you tell your own personal story in the safety of a bunk circle with your trusted bunkmates – who in just a few days have already become as close as a second family.

Experience Camps is more than just a week-long camp to me. It’s an annual reminder about what’s most important in life. About why this life is more beautiful when you fill it with incredible people that you can truly be yourself around.

Taylor holding a sign

That impact is exactly why I feel so fortunate. So to everyone that is part of our Experience Camps family (campers, counselors, caregivers, donors, etc.) – I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every one of you and I appreciate everything you bring that makes this such a special community!