From Island Guest to Staff, Board Member Sees Other Side of Star

By Sally Russell, Board Member

[Editor’s Note: This is part of the “Life Cycle of a Shoaler” series. This essay focuses on the transition from island guest to staff member.]

For the last two summers in addition to attending my normal conference, I have volunteered for a second week on island as a volunteer/Pel. I am fortunate to have recently retired, so I can volunteer my time to Star.

This past summer, I volunteered during LOAS 2. I worked all week on Chamber. I learned to do hospital corners, and how to arrange a room with placement of the water glasses and towels. I folded thousands of sheets and pillow cases; in fact, I soon learned that there is a never ending pile of stuff to fold down in the Linen Closet. I also found out that the crew’s shift coincides with the conferee dining hours. Less sleeping conferees are disturbed this way I suppose.

It was great to get familiar with Pel Hall and the different crews of hard working Pels. It was strange to be on island for someone else’s conference.  In fact, I took notes during LOAS2 of ideas to bring back to my conference. I think that everyone who is thinking about serving on the SIC Board, should do one day on chamber, or waitrae, if they have not already done so as a Pel.

One crew I have always wanted to try was dish crew. Thanks to another volunteer, Scott Stewart, I shared a 30 minute shift with him. That was about all I could physically handle. Another night I volunteered for Evening Chapel, and saw that experience from another angle. Only one lantern broke as a result of my inexperience.

I am most impressed by how the Pels tweak their jobs to make them more efficient, and on the other hand they also maintain important traditions that have survived through decades. I will always look at my freshly made bed differently when I first enter my room for my conference, and I will check the hospital corner, the placement of the towels and water glass.