I cannot get camp off my mind and so, I'll write about it. One of the major elements of spending a summer as a camp counselor is the chance to be a role model for those younger than you in a setting unlike any other. The children you're surrounded by don't just see you on weekdays or from 9:00 to 5:00; they see you all day, every day that they're there. What a special opportunity this is, a chance for an honest to God win-win situation for both you and the kids you're impacting.
I recently shared a video that's circulated Facebook for weeks. It follows a boy - Jordan - as he goes through two very different days at school. At first, Jordan is mostly ignored unless he's told to be quiet. He and his classmates spend their time at school solemnly and without much to say after being let down by their bus driver, teacher, and numerous others throughout the day. On the second day, though, Jordan is greeted by every adult with whom he comes in contact with either a hug or a high-five. He spends his day engaged, interested, and, most of all, happy. The adults who interacted with Jordan made his day by simply showing him warmth and enthusiasm.
As college students, we are right in between being viewed by children as "old" and being fellow kids ourselves, giving us the chance to be wildly relatable to younger generations. When you speak in public, even if you aren't necessarily speaking to a child, children listen. They listen because they're interested in you. They listen because they want to be like you. And they listen because for them, you could be a hero.
Being a role model is actually not a choice. If we are to positively shape the next generation, we must set good examples for the children around us. I think about camp every single day, for hours on end, and perhaps this is a large reason why that's the case. I and so many others had the opportunity to be positive role models for about 1200 younger guys throughout the summer, an experience like no other. I got to see firsthand how inspiring role modeling can be, just by watching how the other college-aged guys and gals around me interacted with campers, even at times when I knew they were at their wits' end. They never compromised on their goal and promise of being a hero to their younger people.
Be a role model, please. None of us are perfect, to be sure, but we can all do our part to benefit the generations that will follow us in this world. I have no idea what I'm even doing this summer, let alone what my ultimate future holds. But what I do know is that I have come to truly appreciate the value of setting future generations up to be the best they can be, one little dude or dudette at a time.