Love In A Big World: Hope, joy and camp

January 16th, 2018

I’ve spent the week with YMCA professionals from across the country. Both the #ymcacampfire and #MACC2018 conferences brought together hundreds of caring adults dedicated to building healthy kids. These non-traditional educators renewed their commitment to impacting kids, families and communities through camping and afterschool programs. What inspired me was their collective passion, hope and fun.

One comment that I heard over and over again in my conversations with these amazing people was “I love what I do!Some have been career Y professionals; others found their way to camp from other careers. Whatever their path, they are excited about the work they do because of the impact they have on the lives of kids. Even though they don’t get a huge paycheck, they are passionate about their work. The reward comes from knowing they are making a difference. 

These youth leaders serve a diverse group of kids. This diversity is expressed racially, culturally, physically, and socioeconomically. It includes interests, skills and experiences. Despite the differences, these leaders see the commonalities. They see what makes a kid a kid; what makes a human human.  This acceptance breeds contagious hope.

The evidence of this optimism is joy. The joy results in good old-fashioned fun. The antics include silly songs, clever games and ridiculous skits. Often the laughter is accompanied by a gut punch of truth. There is an abundance of smiles, high fives and hugs. One of the reasons I like spending time with these people is that they are big kids like me. Everyone has value; everyone has a place.

One of my favorite quotes from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is from his “I Have A Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. He says, “I have a dream...that one day my children…will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” King’s dream calls Heaven to earth.  

I have spent my life working to see this dream realized. I believe it is possible as we intentionally choose Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Caring. I know it can happen; I’ve been to camp.

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