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The Volunteer Center at Camp Scholler

By Dave Mercer, EAA 379378, Volunteer Center Cochair and Volunteer Advisory Committee

March 2016 - The Camp Scholler volunteer center is an integral part of the success of AirVenture. The easiest way to describe the center is kind of like a union hall for volunteers. It is the place where EAA members (and some nonmembers) who want to work and are not sure where are matched with areas that need more help than they currently have.

Most returning volunteers already know where they will work and simply show up there. We don’t see them. But for those who are not sure, we are an integral part of the process.

Every year the volunteer center polls all AirVenture areas to determine their needs, and then, beginning about two weeks before show time, potential volunteers show up and we match them with various areas’ needs.

We have provided hundreds of volunteers over the years to flightline operations, flightline safety, tram operations, forum operations, Operation Thirst (who doesn’t love to make 10,000 sandwiches?), Homebuilt Headquarters, chair setup for various events, aircraft greeters, parking, activity center, running gas pumps, filling forum water coolers, welcome center, camper registration, Weeks Hangar, and many more.

In addition to these “regular jobs,” we get constant requests for special one-time jobs. Usually there are 6-10 volunteers who are available by cell phone on a moment’s notice to respond as needed. They have repaired potholes, set up chairs, filled campground information packets, moved tables, delivered newspapers, set up displays, moved aircraft, cleaned hangars, cleaned Theater in the Woods, managed crowd control for visitors to the Airbus 380, and many, many more needed tasks.

Stories abound about volunteers who started at the volunteer center, found a permanent home in a specific area, and have worked there for years.

Several years ago John came to AirVenture with his dad, a longtime volunteer; he is a high-energy guy who needs constant activity. Tom Poberezny needed someone to deliver Flying magazine, and the print shop needed help in various areas. John did both and is now a permanent volunteer in the print shop. Randy Halberg, print/mail manager, says we will never get him back. But that is how it is supposed to work.

Bill stopped by. He was (and is) an experienced A&P mechanic. At first the people at Weeks Hangar said they had enough help, but they smartly gave him a try. The rest is history; he is now a key guy there. He regularly tours with the B-17 and loves it.

Two years ago Weeks workers called and needed some volunteers to do miscellaneous cleanup. We sent six people over to work. They stayed for two weeks, came back every day greasy, dirty, and barely recognizable, and had the time of their lives.

The volunteer center has been around for many years. It does a fantastic job of matching needs with those who want to volunteer. It truly is the spirit of EAA. Make sure to stop by this summer!

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