Photo courtesy of Sentinel Courier, Pilot Mound, MB
Executive Director Kim Scherger, Manitoba Camping Association, presents Neita Avery with Canadian Camping Associations Award of Excellence April 26, 2019 in Miami Manitoba.
The following is the Winnipeg Free Press article featuring Neita (April, 2019).
A Clearwater resident is being recognized with a special award for more than two decades of volunteerism at the nearby Rock Lake United Church Camp. Neita Avery will receive the Canadian Camping Association Award of Excellence during a presentation on April 26 at the camp’s annual quilt, art and craft auction in Miami, Man. The award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions in their province. Avery, 87, chuckles when asked how she feels about it. “It’s sort of humbling,” she says. “There are a lot of others that do a lot of work, because it takes more than one person. But it’s very nice to be recognized.” Avery’s daughter attended the camp and then got involved as a counsellor, so Avery began volunteering each year as part of the group that gets the camp ready for summer. That involvement continued long after her daughter grew up.
In 1998, Avery joined the camp’s board of directors. She has filled a variety of roles on the board since then, including a few years as chairwoman. Avery’s contributions don’t end in the boardroom. As soon as the snow melts, she can be found doing anything she can to help. That includes mowing the lawn, washing windows, cleaning cabins, going into the crawl space to turn on the water, and baking and dropping off cookies. Avery keeps a handful of camp brochures in her purse, always ready to spread the word about a place that she has poured her heart and soul into, Kathryn Basso says. “Her contributions can be seen and felt all over the camp,” says Basso, who serves on the camp’s board and nominated Avery for the award. “Nobody who has been to camp throughout the past 20-plus years has not been touched by her actions and that really shone through in the many letters we received in support of her nomination.”
The camp is more than 100 years old. About 250 to 300 young people attend it each summer. “It is a place where children and teens are safe to learn and explore in an open, welcoming environment,” Basso says. “Campers are free to be disconnected from the pressures and influences of social media, and can become connected with themselves and their peers by spending time outdoors, canoeing, dancing and worshipping together.”
Avery is a firm believer in the camp’s mission. “I think it’s very good for the kids to get back to their roots, sort of, and just see a different part of God’s world,” she says. “They learn to mix with the other children and get to know other people. I think that’s a good part of being at camp.” Basso says the Canadian Camping Association award could not go to a more kind-hearted, generous or committed volunteer than Avery. “She’s incredible,” Basso says.
For Avery, who also helps out at her church, a senior’s residence and local sporting events, volunteering is “just a part of life.”