By Mikayla Van Loon
Getting recognised for his 13 years of volunteering with Camp Quality was not something David Clingin ever thought would happen.
But as this year’s Camp Quality Gillard Award recipient for Victoria, the Mount Evelyn man has been acknowledged for his excellence in volunteering.
“It was completely unexpected because you don’t do it for recognition really, you do it for thanks and sometimes appreciation but you definitely don’t expect to be like ‘you are the volunteer this year that we are highlighting as exceptional’,” Mr Clingin said.
“That’s not why I do it. I do it because I enjoy the people I volunteer with and I enjoy the implementation of programs and having fun with kids and generally being a larrikin.”
Camp Quality runs a number of programs, family camps and kids-only camps for children impacted by cancer, whether that is a brother, sister, mum, dad or themself.
“Every child that is affected by cancer needs kindness and needs optimism and that’s the main thing I think we do at Camp Quality is that we are kind and we are optimistic,” Mr Clingin said.
“We are so positive and that doesn’t mean we are unrealistic.”
Mr Clingin said that Camp Quality embraces the notion of ‘laughter is the best medicine’ but also encourages kids to be present in the moment and gain resilience.
Although he only got involved as part of a university placement, Mr Clingin loved his first volunteering experience so much, he stayed on for 13 years.
“Being around people that are constantly optimistic is something that doesn’t happen often in this world,” he said.
“I think that’s why I got involved and stayed there.”
Camp Quality even helped Mr Clingin make the shift from working in corporate sales to becoming a primary school teacher at Badger Creek Primary School two years ago.
“It definitely helped me become a teacher because I enjoyed teaching kids and being in front of a group.
“And it definitely helped me improve my teaching because it allows me to think more about where my kids are at and how is this group going right now?”
Camp Quality Family Program Coordinator Sam Bertrand said that Mr Clingin goes above and beyond, especially now as a camp leader.
“Whenever you see Dave, he has a smile on his face, even though it is hidden behind his bushy beard,” Mr Bertrand said.
“He approaches everything he does with excellence; his passion is second to none and he embodies our values in everything he does.”
Mr Clingin is now in the running for the National Gillard Award.
The Gillard Award has been awarded annually since 2011 in line with National Volunteer Week.
Regional winners are nominated by their peers and Camp Quality employees. Nominations are based on excellence in volunteering, demonstrating Camp Quality values, and living Camp Quality culture.