When I got invited to be part of the planning committee for the volunteers’ camp, I eagerly said yes, knowing full well that this will be on top of my currently overwhelming work schedule. Saying yes was not so much a masochistic decision as another run-in with my too often self-reminder that "if it's something that excites and scares me at the same time, I should probably do it." Of course, there's more to my yes than just that. At the risk of sounding too proud and borderline pretentious, the complex and/or challenging tasks I sometimes find myself involved in nowadays as a volunteer would have barely crossed my mind when I started back in 2014. So I thought that this was a good time as any to recalibrate how I fit with the organization and how I envision my path forward. And I am glad I said yes because as Jenny Anderson has said, "Saying yes is more fun than saying no." And the camp proved to be exactly that -- fun. And a whole lot more.

First off, the planning proved to be a challenge, as I had expected, because I work nights and most meetings were scheduled during the day, which naturally is my bed time. Throughout all of them, I only dialed in either through Facebook or Skype. It did not dampen my enthusiasm though in working on my task, which was designing part of the content for the camp -- the discussion and workshop parts of it. (A shout out to the planning committee who was patient with me and guided me through the whole process.)

Second, the venue was amazing, exactly where I envision a volunteers’ camp would be. Bangkong Kahoy is an intoxicating mix of lush greens, fresh mountain breeze, sumptuous food and cold spring water, plus a front row seat to the mysterious charm of Mt. Cristobal.

Then, of course, the discussions and workshops were truly enriching -- the seven shifts that the organization has embarked on and the emphasis on making an IMPACT (I Make People Act for Change Today); brief courses on street and online campaigning; a workshop on public speaking; breakout sessions on green practices such as urban gardening, yoga, upcycling and mindful travel; and brainstorming and planning of volunteer-led projects.

To balance the classroom lectures, both days were also filled with challenging yet exciting teambuilding activities. Striking a tent and making a perfect square using a 50-foot rope while blindfolded are just a few of the activities that were a sure hit to the camp participants.

 Also a highlight of the camp was the socials held on the first night, which, to me at least, is one for the books. We huddled on the camp grounds under a handful of stars and fought the chilly mountain breeze with anecdotes, songs and raspberry lambanog. Tears and loads of laughter strengthened our bond that night.

Truly, beyond the knowledge and skills that are often gained from events such as the volunteers’ camp, I am grateful for the chance to be with people I share a passion with. It's an indescribable joy to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Being surrounded by a diverse set of volunteers from various backgrounds but who are with you in the fight for the environment is equal parts enlightening and inspiring. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, let me just say that moments such as these reassure me of the fire in my soul, the one that burns and reminds me that no matter how tough, scary and disheartening the path of activism can sometimes get, I should not lose faith for I am among warriors.