Special thank you to Allison Stachel for contributing this blog post!
I remember the first time I heard the words “Camp Swift” as an eleven year old girl waiting to pick up her brother up after his first summer volunteering. “Camp Swift,” the place where I had the opportunity four years later to be counselor for four different groups. “Camp Swift,” the place where I found my passion for helping economically disadvantaged youth. “Camp Swift” the two words that I say when people ask me why I changed my major to Education to become a teacher at a Title 1 school.
When I was a senior in high school, I dedicated a month of my year towards raising money for the Swift Youth Foundation through the AZ Gives campaign. When I made a fundraising page I was not only raising money to give children a fun and safe summer, but also a fair and equal chance in this world. While receiving help from my friends, family and community, I was able to raise enough money to send three campers to camp. When I returned to camp the following year, I came across three twelve-year-old campers that influenced my life.
Camper 1: He had a huge fear of boats.
When it was our time to canoe he refused to go near the water. I pretended that I was practically a professional canoer when I was younger and that we would go on the boat together and be perfectly fine. Little did this camper know that I had a huge fear of boats and always tried to convince myself out of getting on any kind of boat. After the camper finally agreed to get on the boat, it took only ten minutes into the canoe ride for the camper to thank me for helping him overcome his biggest fear.
Camper 2: He thought he was not strong enough.
When our group activity was on the rock climbing wall most of my campers grew full of excitement. However, for this camper he did not want to try because he thought he could not reach the top. For about a half an hour this camper held onto the wall and chose not to give up. Instead of begging to come down when he thought he hit his limit, the camper kept going and touched the top of the wall. This camper approached the rest of the activities we had with a new braveness that he had never seen before.
Camper 3: He felt as if he was not able to contribute a team as much as most people could.
When we played a large game of Capture the Flag with nearly fifty other people, this camper did not think he would be able to help the team win. He thought that he was not capable enough to be on the offense and steal the flag. However, this camper was able to realize how capable he was because he helped score the winning point. Now this camper knows that he truly serves a purpose in this world.
Three children, that due to the money that I helped raise, were able to receive influential and life changing experiences. Three children that inspired me to want to change lives in an educational environment as my everyday job. Three children amongst a group of ten boys that put aside their pride by showing true happiness when they lost a soccer game to a cabin of girls who played hard achieve their dream of winning. Ten boys among many children that had their lives changed because of the Swift Youth Foundation. Thousands of children that we can now rely on to change the world and turn it into an inclusive and positive one.
To donate and/or get involved in AZ Gives Day, visit AZ Gives!
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Swift Youth Foundation