In many ways, I am about as ordinary as one can be. I am a young man from a small town in Virginia. However this last summer I learned the true power of compassion and caring. I came to GYV as an intern, not expecting the impact it would have on me or the impact I would have on others.  I learned a lot from the staff and participants, especially in my role as a cabin counselor second session.

The moments I shared with the participants on the field, in the dining hall, or just in passing will last a lifetime. During our time at camp, I grew sensitive to their experience, their highs and lows, and was able to meet that with empathy and understanding. The GYV participants grew to be like family-true siblings-and I would do anything for them. We hold each other in high regard and that is a product of time, hard work and trust.

I honestly think that it was the best summer, with the outcome of camp being a most rewarding experience for so many of us. Even now, I look forward to hearing from the participants whenever they have a few minutes to spare. I know without a doubt their existence in my life made me a more well-rounded human being. They may have learned from me as a camp counselor, but I learned so much from them as well. Being around them truly gave me an appreciation for what I really want to do moving forward in my career and in life.

If I were to have another opportunity to interact with them face to face, I would have to thank them for providing me with one of the greatest experiences of my life to date. At some point in the future, I hope that we will all find a way back into each other’s lives to share, learn and grow together again. They will forever be in my mind, in my prayers, and on my heart.