I’m taking you back…. to Thanksgiving 2006. 1 year of college under my belt and actively shopping at Aldi (along with other places created for college students). 2006 was the last time I made it home for Thanksgiving.
Fast forward to present day: In my 2 years as a Y professional, I have learned so much. This past year, I became a part of the Trendsetter movement where we talk about building relationships, sharing stories and establishing life long bonds. These are things that I try to make happen in my work as well. The conversations that I have with so many parents praise the level of growth their child will have during the 2 weeks of summer camp. For whatever reason, it seems much easier to be optimistic with parents than my own family. As far as applying these necessary skills to my personal life, I’ll admit, I struggle.
Back up to summer 2011: my youngest brother (Hazard) flew from Saint Louis to be a camper at Jewell for 6 weeks. My mom had some issues with his unenthusiastic efforts in school and thought he could use a bit of perspective. Hazard’s grades were not reflecting his abilities and he caused distraction with a constant flow of “witty” comments. In the weeks leading up to camp I began to dread his arrival. 2011 was my first year as an Assistant Camp Director and I’ll be honest; I did not want his antics to reflect poorly upon me.
Upon Hazard’s arrival I began to realize the great kid he had grown into. He is smart, considerate, and even has a hint of my sarcastic humor. As it turns out that I did not really know him at all. This past summer he participated in our LIT program, the Jedi program and a session of Ranch camp. Younger campers looked up to him and he set a great example. In those 6 weeks I learned more from him than I would have ever imagined.
My time with Hazard made me realize that I had not been practicing what I’d been preaching. I was so eager to give complete
strangers, my campers at Jewell, the benefit of the doubt and yet I dreaded spending time with my own brother because of preconceived notions. The Y provides loads of opportunities for families to grow closer together yet this has not been on the front burner for me. My pre New Years Resolution is to remember to apply what I learned to everyone.
So after years of missing Thanksgiving for various reasons, I finally made it back to St. Louis. Sharing stories and building relationships applies to Hazard too!!!
Assistant Camp Director
YMCA of Greater Hartford