If you were asked today, as in right now, who won the Best Song in the Country Music Awards in 1986, OR who won the Best Supporting Actress in the 1996 Emmy’s, OR who won the 1972 World Series?
Some might know these answers, others might take to Google or Siri for the assist but, I would wager that everyone would be able to name a teacher, neighbor, friend or family member that positively impacted their life. In fact, I know it would be heartwarming to not only recall the person but then share the memory.
Almost everyone has a story whether young or older and at the Y we are fortunate to be part of those stories. Recently one of our campers shared his story.
Paul has been coming to camp since he was young; in fact he experienced camp earlier than most, by dropping his older sister off at Camp. He saw the magic, the fun and the laughter and couldn’t wait to be part of it. He had to wait patiently for 3 years before becoming a camper; just a few years before a world of pain and sadness would hit.
Paul made friends easily and though some friends are older, he continues to build friendships, which is why camp helped him escape death, guilt, and sadness. Paul shared that, “I was able to tell my story in a way that showed hope and fun.” Adding that, “Camp means more than sleeping in the woods or cooking over a fire. It means friendship.”
Continuing with his story, “When I was 10, my dad had a stroke. It was rough, my world fell into guilt and sadness but I remembered camp. So I asked my mom if I could go back. The two years following that were rough but I was able to tell everyone at camp that through darkness, even a little bit of light makes a difference. I was able to start the Ragger's Program at 12, which let me speak more freely.”
Sharing our story and experience helps others see the positive impact we can have on people. I bet Paul knows the counselors by name, in fact I KNOW that he does as he sent this directly in to the Camp Director and asked that it be shared. His heart was to have others know how Camp helped him through a tough time in life and that it could do the same for others.
Paul ended with this thought, “Camp has changed my life more than once because I was able to make friends and start a family here, a family of friends, counselors and everyone. At camp, I'm allowed to be me.”