Grains of Sandy November-December 2017
Super-Volunteer Josef Brozek Talks About Gratitude, Volunteering and “Retired Guys & Gals Week”
The week following Labor Day Weekend is known as “Retired Guys & Gals Week” at Sandy Island and it provides a chance for retirees to spend a day or a whole week sharing their expertise on self-styled Sandy Island volunteer projects.
Camper Josef Brozek is 79 years old and has been coming to Sandy Island for 35 years. Josef may hold a record for the number of days he spends at Sandy Island each year. Josef and his life partner Caryl come to Sandy as campers during weeks 4, 7 and Labor Day Weekend. Josef explains, “We go home after Week 4 and in two weeks we start to miss Sandy, just in time to go back for Week 7. After Week 7 ends, we just start to get homesick for Sandy, and it’s time to go back for Labor Day Weekend. That works out really well for us.” Josef loves Lake Winnipesaukee and swimming, sailing and kayaking are his favorite Sandy activities. Josef says his Sandy Island schedule is simple to follow. “If it shines, I swim. If it blows, I sail. If neither, I kayak. If the weather gets really bad, I go to the Craft Shop.”
Josef also puts in a huge number of volunteer hours at Sandy Island every year. Although he only started volunteering at Sandy six years ago, Josef now attends multiple volunteer events every year. In the springtime, Josef attends Sandypalooza work weekend and helps to get camp opened. After Labor Day weekend, Josef stays on at Sandy, working during the popular “Retired Guys & Gals Week.” Then, later in the fall, Josef returns to Sandy to help close up the camp.
What does Josef do during all these volunteer hours? He says, “During the spring and fall work weekends, the jobs I do are the ones the camp staff has organized, usually related to getting the camp open for the season, or closed up for the winter. At Sandypalooza in May, I might work on landscaping projects, cutting brush, clearing branches, or transplanting flowers in front of the Lodge. By late September they are trying to shut camp down, and I help by doing jobs like taking down curtains, packing blankets and pillows into plastic bags, putting up storm windows, moving porch furniture indoors for the winter, and locking up the cabins.”
Josef’s favorite volunteer experience, however, is spending Retired Guys Week at Sandy. When he was asked why Retired Guys & Gals Week was so special to him, Josef explained. “There are many reasons! For one thing, the water is still warm, so I can swim or go boating when I am not working. I like the fact that you can make up your own project during that week. I’ve proven to Kate and Anya that I am reliable and a good worker and will finish what I start, so they let me work pretty independently on boat-related projects and those have become my favorites. Last year, for example, I needed some spare parts for the red kayaks. I called the manufacturer in Canada and they told me there was a kayak sales and parts store right in Ossipee, NH. Anya got some staff members to help me take one of the red kayaks over to the kayak shop. The store was very helpful. Besides supplying us with the parts we needed, they gave us advice about refinishing the bottoms of the kayaks every year, and about not dragging the plastic kayaks across the sand and gravel. The kayak dealer said our kayaks were made of really good, strong material and that, with a little TLC, they’d last for at least another 10 years. Besides learning all these new ways to help preserve our boats, I got even more out of that trip. Anya had also given me money to take the staff kids who drove me to Ossipee out for ice cream, as a way of thanking them for their time. They enjoyed the ice cream, we all had fun, and I ended up making friends with kids on the staff.”
Josef says there is another reason why he likes to work at Sandy during Retired Guys & Gals Week. “After Labor Day weekend, the regular camping season is over, the island is quieter, and you can take your time with your project. You eat with the staff members who are still on the island, so you get to know them. The international staff is often there later in the year than some of our younger staff members. One of my special pleasures has been meeting international staff and getting to speak with them in Polish, in Russian, and especially in my native Czech. That’s always nice. Besides meeting staff members during Retired Guys Week, you also meet campers from other weeks. You fraternize with each other at meals after the day’s work is finished, and sometimes you make new friends. Enjoying this beautiful island and lake, and enjoying the camaraderie of staffers and fellow volunteers, it’s a wonderful feeling! Retired Guys & Gals Week is a great opportunity for seniors to bring their skills and experience to Sandy. If you are working on a project you love, the work will be fun and not a chore!”
Josef offers this advice for anyone who wants to get involved during Retired Guys Week at Sandy Island:
– Think of a project you want to work on and present that project to Kate and Anya to make sure it is something that the camp needs.
– Once you get the OK to go ahead with your project, talk to Tyler Skinner about the timing, and whether the space you need to work in will actually be available.
– When the timing is approved, then tell Tyler what materials you will need. For example, this year I refinished the bottoms of the kayaks. Before I arrived at Sandy, Tyler made sure they had sandpaper, paint brushes, polyurethane, and paint thinner all ready for me.
– If you need staff help, make sure Tyler can provide the staff and schedule the hours and vehicles you need (for example, I needed a boat and a truck to get that kayak to Ossipee).
– Keep your sense of humor and be flexible!
Josef says, “Retired Guys & Gals Week lets you give something back to Sandy Island. You get to work on something you really enjoy, or something you think is really important, while you are enjoying this beautiful place. The camp benefits from the experience and so do you! What could be better?”
Thank you, Josef, for all the hours you give to Sandy Island!
The team has been hard at work out at Sandy Island! The excavation work on the waterfront is complete, just in time for a healthy coating of snow this week!
Happy Holidays from Sandy Island’s Senior Staff!
2017 has been a wonderful year and we are so grateful to so many people. Our amazing staff shared their enthusiasm and energy in so many ways. Our wonderful campers enjoyed our lovely island and spent time giving us some valuable feedback. Many members of our Sandy Family shared their talent, devoted time to committee work and volunteer activities, and those generous cash and “in-kind” donations which help us to carry on at the level we do.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to each of you and wish you all a happy & healthy holiday season!
Kate Lemay, Anya Archer & Tyler Skinner
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