Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Pay it Forward

Name: Kayleigh Bekisz
From: Warrenton, VA
Grade: 12
School: Homeschool
Votes: 0

Pay it Forward

Of all the service with which I have been involved, there is one thing that stands out.
Each summer, I go to Fredericksburg, Virginia for a single week. Over
the course of that week, there is a collective effort on the parts of
more than fifty high school aged youth to make the lives of
impoverished and disabled individuals just a little bit better.
Called FredCamp, this project is truly one of the most fulfilling
things I have ever been a part of. Divided into crews, FredCamp
attendees work together to repair the homes of people who cannot
afford or are otherwise unable. While we build floors and decks, we
are also building relationships, with each other and with the people
we help. Often, when told about FredCamp, people are shocked to learn
that kids from across Virginia and even North Carolina willingly give
up a week of their summer and pay to sleep on the floor of a school
so that they can make the lives of others better. FredCamp is a
unique community, of youth who return year after and year, and new
campers who take the places of graduating seniors. Many return to be
counselors or adult campers. When you enter the doors of the school
that is home for a week, you are loved, a part of a family. Lifelong
friendships are formed, as well as a sense of satisfaction in the
work done to help someone you have never met before.

Helping the community is only one part of FredCamp. In a way, we also help ourselves
through our network of support. There is no judgment during the week
of FredCamp, you are free to be yourself and you are encouraged to
push yourself to do things you never thought you could do. In many
cases, newcomers, such as myself, have no prior experience with
building or repairs something that made me unsure my first year, but
each crew is guided by a professional builder who helps them through
the process. There is also spiritual support, as FredCamp is
faith-based and includes a nightly time for personal growth in faith
on a level that can be understood no matter where you are in your
life. After FredCamp, we return home, but we want to stay in our
little bubble of community and service and family.

One of the biggest goals during the week is to help people help themselves. I believe
that all it takes is some inspiration to realize that you can do good
things for others even in a less than ideal situation. By paying it
forward, we have inspired the people we help to reach out themselves
in any way they can, which can have more of an impact to the dynamic
of the world than any ramp we could build. It creates a change in the
outlook of people who thought that they could not do anything for
themselves. Through my experience, I have seen a woman whose home I
worked on return the favor by providing lunch for my crew. Although
my service through FredCamp is not in line with my future career
goals, it is a way for me to make a difference in the world, one that
will last for not just a week, but for years to come. By far, this
project is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. It
is amazing to see what a hammer and a handful of nails can do to
change the world.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".