“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
For the 5th consecutive year, Kellie and I have just completed another Morgan Youth Soccer Camp. It’s a tremendous camp. It’s something we look forward to each and every year. Our numbers this year weren’t as good as they have been in the past couple of years, but there are many youth camps that would like the numbers we got this year.
Here’s how the attendance has went: 25ish, 75ish, 180+, 150+, and now 100+. No matter the size of the camp, it’s a ball. The kids make it. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible. Without our sponsors, it wouldn’t be possible.
There’s just something about doing this camp that makes me continue to love coming back home and teaching soccer to the kids.
I am often asked, mostly by those who don’t know me, how and why I come do camp in Morgan County. Well, for starters, I am from there, so that’s how I know it. It all started on a whim, and it has just continued to build to something I desire to do. Morgan County needs help — and if you know it, you would agree. For years, it has continually ranked in the top of the worst counties for in Ohio unemployment and teenage pregnancy rate. We used to lead Ohio in corporal punishment cases. We are the only county in Ohio that doesn’t have a 4-lane highway. I could go on and on about how bad it is.
But…the one thing that is always there is the kids. They need any and every chance to succeed. For me, I know soccer. I can help them, for a week that we have in the summer…to succeed on the soccer field. It’s my chance to give back to the kids. I often think that this camp and other youth camps drive me because it’s something that I never had when I was a kid. There weren’t a lot of people who devoted time to youth soccer players or youth baseball players (the two sports I grew up playing). Outside of my coaches, who were tremendous (and continue to be tremendous for youth sports), there’s nothing I can really say I looked forward to each year (outside of the start of a new season).
I have been traveling quite a bit in the last few years. The thing I continue to notice is the lack of contribution from a specific age demographic. Once someone graduates high school, I believe that age demographic is around 18-30. It can vary quite a bit, the “giving back” man start when a person has kids on their own. Now, I don’t want to get on a high horse and say that I am the only one doing it. No, I just want to encourage more to do it. This is something that I wished I would’ve started A LOT earlier than what I did. Don’t miss out on a time to give back.
There’s many a ways to give back. It could be financially. It could be with your time. It could be with your knowledge. It could be lending a helping hand. You could come up with your own way.
The joy that shines on kids’ faces during camp drives me. It makes me feel good inside. Kids are full of innocence and love. The want someone to care for them and love them back. They look up to everyone that is “grown up.” It’s amazing what can happen when you contribute to any people group.
If you are 18-30 years old, and you have time on your hands. Go volunteer. Go start something up. It doesn’t require money. It just requires you. If you have one day a week, give one day a week. If you have a couple hours on a couple of days, give a couple of hours on a couple of days. You’ll be amazed at what could happen when you start helping people. There’s joy in it. There’s love in it. And best of all, people are blessed because of it.
Kids are our future. They want you. They look up to you. What’s your legacy going to be? Are you willing to give up a few personal moments of your life to dedicate to someone who needs you?
Start now. Don’t wait.