Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Camp CommUNITY Reflection - Nayelly Dominguez

Nayelly Dominguez - 2010
Fort Worth Country Day, Senior 2010-2011

As we were about to begin our final camp activity I specifically remember thinking, “Oh gosh I hope that candle doesn’t go out or fall because that would just not be a good way to end camp.” But why would I not want anything to interrupt this final moment with my friends? What was so special about passing a candle around in a circle for over an hour? The answers are simple yet deep and complex. While people at camp usually learn to hike, canoe, and do several other outdoor activities, I learned to live in the world. I am a person: I breathe, I eat, and I sleep. However, it takes much more than these characteristics to actually live. Before camp, I knew I had a purpose in this world. I knew that I must always give my all in everything I wanted to achieve. I did not know, however, why or how I was going to accomplish this purpose. Camp CommUNITY empowered me to know the reasons why I am, who I am, and why I must always fight for what I want and make the best of the world I live in.  

When my Diversity Club sponsor nominated me to attend Camp CommUNITY, I viewed the opportunity as a pleasant summer activity in which I could meet new people and have a good time. I have to admit that I formed a judgment right away. I assumed that because the camp was local and inexpensive, it was not going to be as much fun or as well-constructed as a more expensive diversity leadership camp or conference would be. I was wrong. Although I did feel guilty for judging incorrectly, one of the first lessons I learned is that judgments are part of human nature. What we do with those judgments is matters most.  All of the seventy-six delegates, including me, underwent a series of acquaintance activities, and after we were somewhat familiar with each other, the serious work began. Quickly we learned about the diversity of our delegation and embraced this great diversity present in our newly established community. Before camp I knew there was much socio-economic, religious, racial, gender, and cultural diversity in my community, but I never fully reflected on it.  As we participated in activities ranging from discussing oppression and discussing our diverse heritages, and singing in circles, what were once seventy six strangers created a close knit community of passionate, strong, and motivated individuals. I quickly recognized that the society Camp CommUNITY had created was a model of the greater world we are apart of.

At camp, I befriended a Muslim boy who truly is one of the nicest and most respectful people I have ever encountered. At the age of fifteen he has been called a terrorist and received death threats simply because he is a Muslim. Such cycles of oppressing certain groups will continue to follow their courses unless somebody stands up against them, eventually causing them to eventually stop. We, the citizens of the world, must learn to be tolerant of what is around us and make decisions open mindedly. Fifteen-year olds, nor anybody else, should be put into these situations but unfortunately they are apart of our everyday lives. Of course the struggle against these ills is not going to be easy because if it were, our society would be extremely different, but we must take the initiative. However, Camp CommUNITY taught me it is not impossible. If seventy-six individuals can create a stable society on a smaller scale, many people from the greater world can come together and do so as well on a larger scale. Camp CommUNITY created a place where an evolution occurred as young people evolved from friends to family, from sharing to feeling, and from existing to living. The times to be weak have passed and we must be strong to achieve whatever change we want in this world. Whether it be social economic, educational, or environmental change, we must take the initiative. Camp CommUNITY further defined those needs for me and helped me become aware of who I am as a person and what I am capable of.

Looking back at our candle ceremony, unfortunately the candle did go out twice but each time someone lighted it again. In life, there will be times when our internal candles will go out but we as individuals have the power to light them up again with open minds, tolerance, and determination. The words of wisdom and the family that the candle symbolized as it was passed around will forever remain in my heart. I sobbed as if I were a new born child, but in a way I was; as the candle came to me, I felt I was reborn. I will be strong, I will advance, and I must remember that I am a citizen of the world whose duty it is, as the Little Prince says, to live in the world, and not just exist in it. It is our duty as humans to face the reality of the world and address its problems wherever we see fit by whatever means we see necessary but with justification and reason behind our actions. We must be the change we believe in.



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