Amanda's story

 
     Being a formal volunteer can sometimes mean heartbreak, and it can sometimes take more out of you than you ever expected, but it also gives back more to you than you could have hoped. Amanda Poppe of Provo, Utah, works with Girl Scouts of America as a unit leader at their yearly camp. They do a modge podge of activities: canoeing and sailing, a challenge obstacle course, campfire and crafts--all the best parts of summer camp. 
 
     The camp can enroll over 600 girls, sometimes with as few as 30 staff members. With that many girls, it might seem hard to know how the staff can really make a difference. It also means long hours and hard work. But Amanda feels that connection the kids make with the counselors, and the chance to make the girls feel like they are worth something is the greatest value she could want. 
 
     For example, Amanda related a time when a group of 30 girls from underprivileged families came to stay at the camp. Many of the girls’ home lives were less than ideal. At the end of the week, one of the girls camp up to Amanda and said that the only place she felt safe was at camp; at camp, she felt treated like an equal, and that she was never talked down to, the way her parents treated her at home. At first, this was heartbreaking for Amanda to hear that this girl had had such a hard life. But then Amanda realized how wonderful it was that there was at least one week of this girl’s life where she could feel safe and accomplish things she had never dreamed of. Amanda had played a part in giving this girl that memory.
 
     “Don’t be intimidated,” Amanda said. “It doesn’t matter what you do--kids are going to look up to you no matter what, so don’t back away from an opportunity because you’re under qualified. Just caring makes a world of difference in a child’s life.”