Thoughts from Our Intern, Casey

Hello ThorpeWoodians! My name is Casey Chamberlin and I am currently an intern at ThorpeWood. I began my hours with ThorpeWood for a community service initiative required by an Honors class at Hood College last spring. At Hood College in Frederick, MD I am a Junior and a Psychology major with a Criminology & Delinquency minor. Upon finishing my undergraduate degree, I plan to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in School Psychology. Last spring, as a member of the Honors Program, we were required to complete 21 hours of community service; I chose to complete my hours with ThorpeWood. During this time, I helped with farm chores, socialized the baby chicks, and helped research goat enrichment. I fell in love with ThorpeWood’s mission, purpose, and all of the employees who make it possible. I knew I wanted to continue to volunteer with this organization in any way possible. 

Upon entering my classes this fall, I enrolled in the class, “Intro to Social Work”. As part of this class, we were required to select an organization to partner with to complete a 40-hour service-learning project. Upon learning about this project, I knew ThorpeWood would be perfect! Service-learning is a structured learning experience that combines community work with explicit learning objectives, preparation, and reflection. Through this project, my goal was to provide direct service to the community, but also to learn about the context in which the service is provided, and address the challenges facing the community. To complete these objectives, Katie worked with me to create an outline for my time with ThorpeWood. We identified that my goal was to learn about the whole program process – from initial partner meetings to curriculum planning to actual program delivery. 

I began my hours in August by meeting the representatives from Steadfast. This was the first meeting between Steadfast and ThorpeWood altogether, so I was ecstatic to be involved in creating the relationship between Steadfast and ThorpeWood from the start. Along with Steadfast, I volunteered for Head Start Family Day, Camp Jamie, Heather Ridge High School Programming, and Frederick Senior Rec Council Hike Program. I enjoyed each day on the farm, as it brought something new every day. I was exposed to a variety of different populations and individuals. Hearing people’s stories, experiencing their creativity, and building relationships with them was a highlight of my time at ThorpeWood. My favorite experience on the farm was probably working with the Heather Ridge youth. This was most likely because I got to work alongside these individuals multiple times as they came back to the farm for a few visits. This allowed me to not only facilitate therapeutic animal time, spend time caring for the garden with them, and other hands-on activities, but I also got to build relationships with them. Another favorite experience of mine was working with Camp Jamie. As a psychology major, I really enjoyed the therapeutic aspects included in their time at ThorpeWood. The kids were so fun and I enjoyed spending my day with them. Furthermore, the activities they completed directly connected to things I have learned about in my Art Therapy and Counseling classes. It was so valuable getting to experience the things I have learned about in the classroom firsthand.

Personally, my experience at ThorpeWood was better than I ever could imagine. I got to connect with the community ThorpeWood serves and learn directly from the individuals what disadvantages they experience. I got to build genuine connections and share all ThorpeWood has to offer to a variety of underserved populations. Although I have completed my 40-hour service learning project at ThorpeWood, that does not mean I am done. ThorpeWood has inspired me to continue to serve others. It has also provided me with connections to the wonderful staff members who have always been there to listen when I was personally struggling or overwhelmed, and of course the wonderful animals, especially Scratch, was always there for a hug. I will be forever thankful for my time spent and ThorpeWood. I have gained so many valuable skills and experiences which have, in turn, made me more well rounded and helped shape who I am today. I am inspired by ThorpeWood and excited to see what the future holds.