Justin Crowe is a long-time Children’s Art & Literacy Festival volunteer who has been involved from both the planning and guest experience perspectives. One of the CALF projects he is most proud of is helping create a digital scavenger hunt.
“A small team of us came up with the idea and the amazing Trish Trifilo brought a product to the table that has really exceeded our expectations,” Crowe said. Crowe and Trifilo both serve on the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council board. “The GooseChase app allows us to build a multi-faceted game highlighting the CALF events and our ever-growing collections of storybook sculptures involving digital photographs, geolocation and even trivia.”
The app now has hundreds of users.
“It has definitely exceeded our expectations for both the number of players and the enthusiasm they have for the game,” said Crowe, who is the senior practice manager at Hendrick Health System. “The hardest part now is coming up with new clues to keep the players engaged. We have some super-savvy storybook fans out there!”
If you are looking for Crowe on CALF weekend, you will probably find him handing out buttons, operating a bubble net or wielding a Super Soaker water gun during Joe McDermott’s outdoor musical performances. He also helps recruit volunteers for the festival, including co-workers at Hendrick and fellow members of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce program Abilene Young Professionals.
“CALF doesn’t happen without an extensive number of volunteers,” he said. “Having said that, it is easy to recruit someone when you know they are going to have a blast while they do it. Who doesn’t love spraying kids with a Super Soaker or handing them that final button than completes the set on their lanyard? I have been blessed to have some really good friends including many of my coworkers at Hendrick Health System who approach me each year to make sure I do not forget to include them as CALF volunteers.”
For last year’s festival, nearly 540 people volunteered their time, ranging from individuals to groups from churches, businesses that are festival sponsors to the state’s Foster Grandparent Program run by Debra Young, which provides all the help for CALF Group Day. The festival requires so many volunteers because it takes places over three days at nearly 20 venues.
Three women have coordinated the festival’s volunteers since the very first year – long-time friends and retired educators Sharon Kelley, Nancy Wilkinson and Debbie Langford.
“Most of the change we have seen is in the number of volunteers needed now as compared to the beginning,” said Langford, who also repairs character costumes. “We had fewer readings and events than we do now!”
The ladies start making plans to recruit volunteers in March. By the end of May, they are close to having all the spots filled.
“There are always changes in volunteer needs and availability up until the day the festival begins,” Langford said. “We have to be flexible and have a few back-up volunteers we can call on at the last minute. Our great volunteers have a fun time. They are usually are asking if they can volunteer again next year! Be sure…we make a note of that!”
If you are interested in volunteering at CALF, please email firstname.lastname@example.org