Greetings!  As I am writing this, I am on my flight home from the United Way Worldwide Alternative Spring Break trip, which was at the Barefoot Republic Camps in Franklin Tennessee. This trip was quite the adventure in many ways.  My departure was actually my first time flying.  Between layovers, departures, and arrivals, I got to experience four different airports.  This trip was an incredible journey from the very start.  I’d like to thank my sponsor, Layle “Kip” Smith, for assisting with this journey and thank the awesome support I’ve received from Northwood University, Barefoot Republic, and United Way.

The trip was everything I could ask for and more.  Not only did I grow as a leader, but I was able to make an impact on others.  Each day had the perfect balance of team building and service.  I worked with 21 other spring breakers, networking with students from many different schools.   In the morning, I was able to help improve landscaping at the campgrounds.  I also got to help improve the cabins by deep cleaning the interiors and stain the exteriors.  I wasn’t afraid to balance myself on high beams or get dirty because I knew it was going to make a difference for this summer’s campers and future years.  In the afternoons, we hosted day camp– my favorite part.  The children were split into groups where we played sports with them and instructed them in a low ropes co- course.  The most rewarding part of this was my encounter with a child named Michael.  He was extremely enthusiastic, but used phrases such as “you’re letting your team down” when a teammate tried, but didn’t succeed.  I did my best to motivate him and to be more encouraging and empathetic towards his teammates.  By our last activity, we were on the same team for whiffle ball.  We had some batters who weren’t as skilled as others.  Michael ended up being a great team player, encouraging his teammates and cheering them on.  Not only did our team win, but Michael left learning how to be a team player.

Once again, United Way’s Alternative Spring Break developed me as a leader and made an impact on others.  Whether it’s for an internship or only for a couple of weeks, I hope to return to Barefoot to help out with their summer camp.  Being a camp counselor veteran, this spring break was extra special.  I hope to utilize what I learned in the future.  I’m eager to finish this school year and with my duties as a Resident Adviser and continue to serve at various organizations that target youth. I am proud to represent Northwood University, United Way, and now Barefoot Republic Camp.

Thank you to all of those involved in some way with my trip and other learning experiences.