The Role of Joy

One month from today, Ray United’s 3rd annual soccer camp will begin. This has gotten me thinking about what our camps bring to the table that make them so impactful and meaningful for all those involved. I have come to the conclusion that it is the sense of joy and unity the permeates through the whole experience that make our camps worth replicating year after year. The joy experienced by all involved in camp, whether volunteer or participant, serves as a reminder that happiness can always be achieved, no matter the circumstances. And our joy can be shared around the world. I recently discovered a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that reads, “Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.” I believe this is exactly what makes our camps so special and effective and why I look forward all year to getting to experience the pleasure of camp once again. Public health education can be delivered through classrooms and over mass media through posters and the radio. Warm food and water can be disturbed directly to those who need it without fanfare. But there is no joy in those actions. If I have learned anything working with poor, rural communities, it is that the youth living there are filled with joy and hope. They see beauty all around them and want to share their pride with others. RUFC camps allow them to do this, to be proud of their skills on the soccer field, to exhibit and share their knowledge about themselves and their community, and to express their future ambitions. In return we appreciate their potential, assist them in outlining their their goals, and teach them a few additional skills to help them along. All together we dance, play, and learn. RUFC camps are filled with music, laughter, and screams of joy as goals are made and games are won. It is pure joy and I can’t hardly wait for this month to pass.

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