As a perfectionist, it’s easy for me to notice mistakes and areas for improvement. However, I realize that the few shortcomings may stand out to me only because they are dwarfed in light of the innumerable reasons to be proud about the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids.
There’s the boy who appreciates the enriching socialization and outdoor time at camp since his weekends consist of little more than playing video games by himself. There is the girl who so values our weekly “Water Day” water fight that her mom made special arrangements to bring her when their car was in the shop. There is the boy whose self-proclaimed boredom turns into smiles and laughter whenever he joins a game of soccer. There are the kids eager to participate during the nutrition presentations by our Children’s Hunger Alliance Guest Educator. There is the boy whose parents are only in the U.S. from China for one year but were thrilled to have a fun, engaging activity for him within walking distance (The boy even taught me a new way to hold a ping pong paddle!). Many parents have directly told me how grateful they are for what I do or that their kids excitedly talk about camp at home, giving an amazing affirmation of the camp’s impact this summer. Even more assuring, though, is witnessing appreciation from those at camp.
There is the girl who greets me by name each day and the boy who created a handshake with me and told me he’ll never forget me. There are the boy and girl who eagerly wanted to share their math skills and self-taught study of the Chinese language with us, respectively. There is the girl who gifted homemade crafts to our staff bus rider and another who wrote notes to her favorite teen interns.
An older boy who has created sincere friendships with our staff and teens longs for the year when he can become a teen intern. The teens, themselves, are eager for the responsibility, play, and socialization of Summer Camp since it provides a sense of meaning and fulfillment to their summer. Some teens are disappointed when jobs conflict with camp but still show up when possible even if it means a full day of volunteering and work. One of the most important affirmations, though, is the core of kids who wake up early every day to spend the morning with us at Bayside.
With camp ending for the summer, the kids will continue to hold a place in my heart and I in theirs.