As I cautiously proceed through the sturdy, ancient doors leading to an unknown territory, I acquired a special feeling. Once I got through the church barriers after months of rigorous fundraising, there appeared a select hundred of African American children patiently waiting for the annual summer bible camp to begin. As a member of the Group Work Camp organization, our weekly assignment was to hang out at an annual camp for underprivileged kids. The moment I was notified about my assignment, I initially thought “This will be so easy, but will I make a difference during the time span I am in Nashville, Tennessee to volunteer?” As the week progressed I discovered how poor my judgment had been.
Throughout that week the kids and I preformed different activities from general education to playing in a huge water fight. Interacting physically with the kids was a joy, but interacting with words was more rewarding. As the kids quickly became attached to me, I was discovering many things about them that were truly remarkable. One child in particular shined. He graciously shared a story with me entailing how his house had burnt down a couple days before my arrival and he was very thankful that his family was okay, especially his dogs. One would never be able to guess he had just experienced a mere tragedy due to his lively personality and attitude. I could not even begin to imagine this story and it consistently remained in the back of my mind; therefore affecting the rest of my trip.
As the end of the week arrived, I felt myself permanently attached to these children. On the other hand, for me to be their friend and actually recognize their presence was the greatest joy in the world for them. I gradually said my goodbyes to all of the wonderful, grateful faces. Additionally, I took more time to say goodbye to Trip, the boy whose house had burnt down. He was so calm and collected that I realized how much more I envied him. Then the moment came when my heart suddenly felt like it was one hundred pounds. Trip said, “Thank You for being my friend for a week!” This expression was extremely touching and powerful because all I was doing the entire week was being this little boy’s companion. Also, the only care in the world to him was my kindness even though he could have had so much more to consider regarding his personal life. After I slowly regained consciousness, it was time to gradually leave this camp that entailed much appreciation for the simple things in life. As I leisurely drifted apart from this known place I had spent the previous week at, I didn’t realize the impact it remarkably had on me.
A couple days later after traveling more than sixteen hours back to my home town of Omaha, NE, Trips words started to influence my life. I was realizing how diverse our lives are and began to contemplate what he expressed. Trip’s words to this day still remain in the back of my head and I continue to remember and pray for him, especially that he have friends! Also, he has influenced me to recognize the simple things in life, like simply saying hi to others when I walk past them at school, or even open a door for someone when I am amongst the community. Before this trip, I had volunteered numerous times, but all my hard work paid off at a single moment! I guess you could say the most rewarding things in life are when you least expect them!