For 22 years, nothing has meant more to me personally and professionally than the power to make a difference in the lives of kids through our organization called Kidventure. Every summer about this time, I travel to our many campsites spread across Texas. What I see humbles me and makes me proud to be part of so many who are focused on making a difference in the lives of kids.
Recently, across our campsites, I have seen kids inspired by the unlimited energy of camp counselors. I have witnessed happiness replace uncertainty. I have seen confidence built through mentorship and I have experienced the joy of just being a kid come to life though simple song and dance. All of this important work (and play) that our camp staff is immersed in is paradoxicaly set against the backdrop of a nation and world that seems to be plagued by hatred, fear and terror.
If I was to simply read the news, I would think the world is crashing around us. If I was to simply listen to our political leaders, I might think that respect, dignity, and honor was lost. And if I was to simply cower in the face of hateful crimes and the mistreatment of others simply because of their race, identity or sexual preference, then I would come to embrace fear.
But I choose not to do all these things because so much of the world is not like this.
Everyday I see how powerful people can be when focused on a common goal. In our (Kidventure’s) case, that common goal is to build the lives of children and families through camp. This collective goal not only allows for, but requires the talents and uniqueness of the many to reach its highest potential for success. In fact, these attributes are the very things so many fear mongers want to undermine and destroy such as diversity, creativity, and personal independence. Yet these are exactly what makes us so influential and powerful in the lives of others.
When the young lives of 49 humans are taken away in Orlando, everyone looses. When a small child washes ashore on a Mediterranean beach because he has no home, everyone looses. When we do not recognize and stand up for someones god-given identity irregardless of what you think it should be, everyone looses. And when we allow ourselves to believe that fear is stronger than love, absolutley everyone looses.
We teach our camp counselors and directors that when they put on their uniform and walk in to camp, their importance in the world becomes immeasurable. For when we impact the lives of children in a positive way, we diminish the value of hatred in our world, we combat the forces of terror in society, and we breakdown ignorance and racism. Ridding the world of hatred and terror will not be achieved in the halls of Congress or the battlefield in the Middle East. That responsibility ultimately requires all of us as individuals and communities to confront. I am blessed to be a part of so many who are inspired to do so in our youth.
For all of those in my world who promote kindness, who stand up for diversity and who champion truth, thank you. I am proud to stand with you.
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