John Pearce: Camp Chief Hector YMCA Adult Volunteer of the Year


Meet John Pearce, Camp Chief Hector YMCA’s Adult Volunteer of the Year!


What is your volunteer role at YMCA?

Driving campers long distances so the campers can have fun.

How long have you been a volunteer at the Y?

10 years.

How long have you been involved at YMCA and in what capacity?

I first went to Camp Chief Hector in 1963. I remember going to the Central YMCA in London Ontario on Saturday mornings when I was 7 for the morning swim when the boys swam naked. That was a ton of fun.

What do you like about volunteering at YMCA?

It keeps me involved with the camp that my family has been going to since it opened in the 1920s.

Why did you choose to volunteer at YMCA over another organization?

Never thought about it. I am a Hector Brave after all.

Do you have a YMCA story?

When I was a Chiniki (they are now called Kananaskin), I was 10 years old and was going to camp for the first time, I brought a used army helmet liner as my headgear. I was always in heaven when I got to go to Crown Surplus in Calgary to root through all the used military equipment and I had purchased a Vietnam era U.S. Army helmet liner.

This was the perfect hat for camp, it shed rain, protected you from the sun and was light weight and had a chin strap for windy weather. The counsellors all liked my helmet and were surprised at how light it was. I wore the thing everywhere, even to chapel but they made me take it off for the service. I wore the helmet back for my second year and the counsellors were concerned that the helmet would be too heavy for our 3 day hike to the ice caves, so they asked me to wear something else. I gave my counsellor or section director the helmet and they were surprised at how light the liner was. They had thought it was the steel pot part.

When I came back as a camper for my third year the official hat of all the pit counsellors was a silver helmet liner. I never got credit for being the inspiration, but I know I was. As a youngster I thought it was cool that the Pioneers had adopted my idea and the silver paint to match the silver bridge was great.

Why are you a volunteer?

I need something to do in the summer. Why not? If you’re going to get old, you might as well do something that helps out the community and brings you pleasure.