This I Believe

Timothy - Baldwin, New York
Entered on January 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

The Handicap of Selfishness

Volunteering at Camp ANCHOR is the thing that has stood out as the most meaningful experience that I have ever had. ANCHOR is an acronym that stands for: Answering the Needs of Citizens with Handicaps through Organized Recreation; and my experience with an ANCHOR camper has made me truly believe in acting unselfishly. Upon first hearing about this summer camp for mentally and physically disabled children, I had a couple reasons as to why I should volunteer there. ANCHOR is located on Lido Beach, and who wouldn’t want to spend their summer there? Furthermore, thinking down the road, I figured volunteer work like this would look great on a college resume. Both of these reasons are entirely selfish, and I gave little thought to how my working there would influence myself or others in ways that I couldn’t ever plan for or expect.

For the first week of camp, I was partnered up with a camper named Jake who suffered from a severe case of ADHD. Having a bad reputation for being a violent kid, Jake would often be punished for fighting. Selfishly, my first reaction was to try and switch my partner to a camper that would require less “maintenance.” However, to my dismay, there was not anything I could do about it. We were stuck together. Worse was that all Jake seemed to think about was WWF wrestling, something I cared very little for. He would often tackle me and do various wrestling moves on me that I found extremely annoying. This happened for the first two days of camp, and I absolutely hated volunteering there. Then someone told me about the many hardships Jake has had to face throughout his life. Jake grew up in foster care, and to his fourth set of foster parents, ANCHOR was just a form of free day care. I put things in perspective and realized that wrestling was just something that Jake loved to do. So I gave in, and we wrestled. We wound up wrestling for most of the day, until an exhausted Jake finally pinned me in the ninth round of the battle royal. From this event, Jake learned that some people want to wrestle and, some do not. This realization helped him gain a little bit of control over his ADHD. For me, I learned that selfishness is as much of a mental handicap as anything else.

Doing something that I thought I hated because some one else loved it led me to have one of the best summers ever. The following two years, I did not return to Camp ANCHOR for a friend or the beach, nor could I care less about my college resume; I came back because I learned that just by giving myself to an idea of someone else, in return, I would get back so much more. What I did for Jake and what Jake did for me is the reason I believe in the act of unselfishness.