Audrey Brothers - Grade 8, Incarnation Catholic School
Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” This quote is one which I live by. My duty on this Earth is not particularly to make it better, but to reflect my light onto those around me. I am so fortunate to have had the remarkable opportunity to go on a mission trip to Cincinnati this summer. There, I was able to have fun, enjoy myself, and connect with not only the people I was with but the people I was serving. My favorite memory on this trip was going to a summer camp for children with disabilities.
This camp was designed for a variety of children with special needs. It is located on the outskirts of Cincinnati, and the landscape of the campground was very steep. This land caused some problems for the campers with physical impairments. However, every child had one or two helpers to guide them through the terrain. It was much like a college campus. Some of the activities at this camp include crafting, swimming, playing in the gym, making s’mores, singing, and a variety of other activities. Anything found at a regular summer camp was available at this one, and the children had their helpers to assist them in these endeavors. On this day, my group was focused on gym activities and exercising. The individuals were categorized based on their age, and the group that I was with was 9-12 year olds.
I was beyond nervous going into this experience. I didn’t know if I would say or do the wrong thing that would distress the children; I thought that I would be very uncomfortable. However, when the preteens arrived, I realized that there was nothing to feel uncomfortable or uneasy about. Yes, these campers had disabilities and couldn’t function the same way everyone else could, but their spirits were livelier than any one of my peers. I had more fun with them than I did with everyday people. These children had a certain outlook on life that I had never seen before. They were excited to be at this camp, and that made me relaxed knowing that they wanted to participate. Despite their setbacks, they lived life to the fullest. In the short amount of time they’ve been alive, they’ve flourished into beautiful human beings. During this day I was genuinely, authentically, and honestly happy, and I had never thought about that before.
These kids gave me more than I had ever imagined. Their enthusiastic spirits were contagious. By being themselves and enjoying life, they gave me the desire to do the same. This experience has paved the way for many more mission trips to come. I am so inspired by this excursion to simply enjoy life. Once I do that, I will realize that I have fulfilled my duty on this Earth to spread light into other people’s lives, as those kids shone their lights onto me.