Although I love and support Camp Swift, my story is not mine to tell, but my son’s, Seth. Seth was a counselor in one of the camp sessions that I happen to be volunteering at. He had a 10-year-old boy in his cabin that was his shadow the whole session. I could tell from a far, that this little boy was fascinated with my son and it was truly adorable to watch. All four days, I witnessed this child standing by my son, looking up to him and literally attached to his hip. I found out on the drive home, that this little boy changed my child’s perspective about other’s in a way that I could not have taught him, no matter how hard I tried.
You see, camp has a rule that no one eats until all cabins have arrived at the cafeteria. Seth’s sidekick was always last to get ready and constantly kept the others from being on time. Each time they were ready to go, they would all stand by the door waiting for him, getting more frustrated with each passing day. Finally, Seth just went over and started to put the boy’s shoes on for him to hustle him along. As he bent down, he saw bruises and cuts on the child’s feet. Turns out, this boy was wearing his mother’s shoes because she didn’t want him to ruin the one pair he had while at camp. The shoes he had been wearing all week were too small for his feet and he had been struggling in silence because he was embarrassed to admit he was wearing women’s shoes. My son, having had multiple pairs of shoes in his closet at any given time, told me that he learned what the saying “don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” really meant. He learned the true meaning of empathy that day, as his frustration with the kid who always made them late, turned into a profound understanding that you never know the person next to you has going on his life.
Any one who attends Camp Swift has a story to tell, a small gesture that impacted the way they perceive others and/or appreciate what they have been given in their lives. This is the magic that happens when people from different backgrounds are immersed in the same community for an extended period of time, they get to know each other and learn valuable lessons that impact their lives forever.
Lisa Meline serves on the Marketing Committee for the Swift Youth Foundation. She is a long time supporter of Swift having served as a volunteer and on the Board of Directors. Her favorite thing to do at camp is to take pictures of the kids having fun.
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