I would like to take this time to express my deepest gratitude for the camperships provided to me in previous summers, making it possible for me to be at Camp Kohahna. Camp Kohahna has made a significant impact on my life, and how I live it to this day. Recently in an Advanced Placement English class we were required to compose a “This I Believe Speech”, similar to the speeches shared on National Public Radio (NPR) Programs around the United States. I would like to share this essay with all of you, to convey how camp has helped shape my beliefs over the years.
With love and gratitude,
Take Initiative: Share Your Fire Within
When learning how to survive in the wilderness, a fire provides one with security and comfort. On cold wet nights, a warm fire is virtually impossible to achieve without the help of the Birch Tree’s magnificent bark. Birch bark is the fuel to a fire. Although small, every little bit of the bark benefits your fire- satisfying the need for warmth and creating a mighty blaze. I believe that we all are here to meet the need of others, any need, for the greater good, the outcome of the situation by taking initiative: being like birch bark, and working to keep someone’s fire going. The time is now, to close the personal agenda, tuck away the little black book and silence the blackberry, and give back to the people and environment surrounding us.
Recognizing someone’s need can be blatantly obvious when your family needs help, or your friend needs a shoulder to cry on, or a stranger needs a friend. Someone’s needs may be small like carrying something inside for them. However big or small a need may be, meeting the need makes a difference. When you take the initiative to help others, you are freely able to give, without question of what benefits you will receive for you action; instead asking humbly what you can do to make life a little bit easier for those around you. Taking initiative allows us to give back, eliminating self centered thoughts and actions.
Taking initiative also means you recognize someone’s need, before they request for help. Initiative requires teamwork, stepping out of a comfort zone, working with others to achieve a common goal. Much like cooperation- except you are the fire starter.
Growing up I spent 10 summers at Camp in Michigan. At camp we learn to be proactive- Fire starters do not wait stoically for someone to need you; you go out and hunt for the need. I take it upon myself to be the flame- to start a fire in people lives, whether by assisting them, supporting them, or merely interacting with them. Birch Bark does not fix earthquakes, or end wars, but works on a smaller scale helping provide each person with warmth and comfort. My goal is to make sure that the flame I have within me, can be passed on to someone else. Perhaps, your best friend has been in a car accident. Perhaps the young boy you do not even know is getting beat up before your very eyes. Perhaps your smile can brighten someone’s day. A fire comes in many forms; all it needs is a bit of Birch Bark to keep a flame going.
In the 6th grade camping quickly became a favorite activity of mine-the real wilderness entranced me. Learning the names of the plants beneath my feet the birds above my head and trees surrounding me, became lessons I could apply at home. A particular favorite tree inspires me to this day; the Birch Tree. Why, you may still ask is a Birch Tree that important? The Birch Tree supplies bark that will catch on fire rain or shine. The Birch Tree is an agent between a spark, and a blazing fire; and in my opinion, I could do no better than to be like Birch Bark in all situations- rain or shine. Coming home after my 6th grade summer with the idea of being birch bark, I began playing with a girl in school who was not always included. This wonderful girl was not annoying like all the other kids said. As we became friends I learned that she came from an abusive home, and later told me that she had attempted suicide because she felt unloved- as if no one needed her. By merely reaching out to her, and being a friend- she came out of her dark resolve, when feeling love and friendship; I never saw someone’s wet dying fire within burn brighter.
By helping others, we are learning to love selflessly. Through humility, we are able to recognize that others need our help above all else. Can you say you go to bed each night knowing you have not kept your time, thought, energy, and charity for yourself? What good is a fire, if you cannot warm everyone with its brilliance? Be the Birch Bark. Start a fire by reaching out to someone in need of your light.