Crossing the River

Since last summer, I have been blessed with the perfect job. It pays well, I get a good tan, I teach kids about the environment, and I get to be outside. I work about 20 minutes from my parents house in Ohio at Recreation Unlimited, a camp for kids and adults with physical and/or mental disabilities. Often those two come together. I am a camp counselor.

The story of how I wound up at RU is rather interesting. First of, I’m a bio major, with hopes of getting into field research. I have no connection or career aspirations in summer camp experiences or special education. I was driving down the highway on time and noticed the green sign marking where to turn for the camp. Curious, I later Googled it and found out the true nature of the camp. As I was looking for a job between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college I decided it would be a good experience to try RU out… and I’ve never regretted it.

My first summer I spent as a counnselor, taking care of campers, seeing them daily struggle with the most basic tasks, and daily overcome huge obstacles like our 50 foot climbing tower, canoes, arts and crafts, and crawdad fishing. These kids and adults are the hapiest people I’ve ever met, and they face so many challenges; and yet we have all our bodily functions, and are always looking for the next thing, always discontent.

Not only have I had the opportunity to work with people with challenges, I can also work with young boys and girls. Just this past week, I was leading some team building activities for a group of typical, local 6th graders. It was absolutely amazing to see the group dynamics each time we started a new session. There were always a couple kids who were really rambunctious and unfocused, but as the activities progressed, there emerged clear leaders, and those who were more task oriented than the others. Often we would present “challenges” to these individuals, taking away talking abilities, or blindfolding them. New leaders would step up; many were not those I would have thought.

One of the most interesting actions this week that I witnessed was during an activity that required campers to cross a “river” using only “logs” (carpet pads). As everyone was crossing, several of the quieter kids found themselves left in the back of the group. One could not talk, the other two could not see. The boy who could not talk was standing at difficult angles in between the two blinded kids, guiding their feet one by one, helping them cross the “river” safely.

It caused me to stop and think. What is it in some kids that perpetuate a care for others who are less fortunate? Why is it that kid decided to help his friends, even though it was difficult and easier for him just to save himself?

What in my life needs to change so that I can be like that young man who cared for his friends enough to overlook his own “disability” and help his classmates.

The job I have has allow me to see people in relatively pure environments; free of outside cares. It is there true character exposes itself. God bless this young man’s life, and may he not live in oblivion of others and thier lives as so many of the human race has done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I Don’t Have Black Friends… or White Friends

Yeah… sorry if the title offends you… But honestly, why beat around the bush hoping the main idea of this post will will fly out?

I’m 19 years old… soon to be 20. I’m not a world traveler by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think I’ve gotten around. I’ve lived in 7 different states of the U.S., and have visited countless others. I’ve gotten a taste of the extremes of culture the Unites States has to offer. From the southern “hospitality” (forgive my cynicism), to the reculsive breed of the west coast, to Ohio and Nebraska (which aren’t different except OSU fans are slightly more insane that Cornhusker fans) where you immediately get sleppy when you drive through their, well, sleepy little towns, with one stoplight, one barbershop, maybe two banks… well, you get the point.

Traveling like that has given me a perspective on people that I will always carry.

People, above all, are scared of everything that is different of them. Watch all the recent Superman and Captain America movies, and what happens? Non- super humans try to put limits on something that is different than them. Why? Because they are afraid.

Why do white kids usually hang out with white kids at school? Because they are afraid. Why do black kids only hang out with black kids at school? Because they are afraid. We are all afraid of being different in a group of people, and of people that are different. If you can’t admit that, then stop reading this blog.

As the post title says, I have no black friends, and I have no white friends. But I do have friends. All the years of meeting new people, making friends, and moving on (all with new sets of culturally affected people) has taught me that there is no such thing as a black friend, and no such thing as a white friend, and no such thing as an asian friend, etc. There are people friends.

This isn’t to say I don’t have friends who are black, or friends who are asian, hispanic friends, or friends who are white. I have all three. but they aren’t my ______ friend. Some of my closest friends are black, from Cleveland and Columbus. I’m not scared of being with them, in fact, I am never more at ease. I have friends from Brazil, Honduras, and Thailand. The key is to learn your differences, and embrace them; find things that you both like doing;  find things about them that annoy you and laugh at those things.

All of this seems really easy saying it. But I have only reached that because of the way I was raised. College has opened my eyes to the differences in people more than anything else. Athletics has brought me together with other young men who are vastly different then me.

If humanity as a whole would get the idea that people different then themselves are not scary, and that the differences in each other can become our greatest assets, the world would be a much different place.

Imagine what our species could accomplish if everyone loved and cared for one another. We pride ourselves on our intellect and reason, and the advances in technology and life we could have are out of reach because of pride, fear, and unreasonableness.