I believe in the future of our world. In a time when the threat of nuclear war, terrorism, famine in third world countries, and genocide is on the minds of our leaders, I have faith.
I believe one can never underestimate the power that children have in changing people and making our world a better place in which to live.
When I was a teenager I had no idea what was going on in my neighborhood much less my community or the world. After I finished high school, I wanted to just hang out for the summer. Instead, I was asked to work at a camp for kids as a counselor because they were short of staff. I, being of sound body and cool mind thought I could go hang out in the woods and commune with nature, not once thinking about the little seven year old girls for whom I would become mom for a week. Not having much experience in taking care of children, I had a lot to learn.
We spent the week hiking in the woods, making rafts to float down the stream, helping plant pine trees as a service project, and singing everywhere we went. I felt like the pied piper! By the time the traditional closing ceremony and campfire came along at the end of the week, the little girls had ratty hair, smudges on their faces, and a whole suitcase full of clean clothes still packed underneath their macaroni shell necklaces. They looked like refugees from a relocation camp, quite proud that the only bath they received during the whole week was a daily dip in the pool.
As the youngest counselor with the youngest kids in camp, I was asked first to step forward near the fire and award tokens to the girls in my group. I need to say here that I am not a very creative person in the area of arts and crafts and as a last resort, had picked up a handful of rocks and painted them gold. As I stood there in the warm night next to the fire with my little girls in tow, I can only say that magic was in the air. Those little girls looked up at me with smiles beaming across their faces. I was so proud of them and they were so proud of themselves, the trees they had planted and their ability to live in a cabin away from mom and dad for a whole week. You would have thought that I had given them ten dollar gift cards to the Mc Donald’s, they were so happy. I could see that they felt proud for receiving a token for their efforts. They clung to my shorts all night wanting to be near the person that had helped them make it through the week.
But the truth is that those seven little girls are the ones who changed me. I had no confidence in my abilities to do anything. I was a slacker in high school and had no idea what I was going to do with my life. They gave me the confidence I needed to go out into the world and face it head on. I went back to that camp for seven years and went on to work in the field of youth development where I could help other youth gain confidence and life skills. It is through these experiences that I have come to believe what I believe. Over the past 25 plus years, I have had the privilege of working with youth from many communities. It is through their eyes that I see not only our community but the world. These youth have given me hope for our future.
Despite what you hear daily on the news about teens and drugs and violence, millions of today’s youth are smart, caring people who offer a tenacious hope for a brighter, better future. Furthermore, they are eager to learn the skills that will help them change this world into their world.
Luckily their world will be my world too, and I am thankful that they will be able to create the very future that we all wish to see!
What I believe is that our children and teens are a source, and a force, of infinite good.
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