I Chaperoned a Service Trip, and it Changed My Life

Author: Maria Pappas, Real Life Stories

In 2013, when I was a sophomore in college, I participated in a life-changing trip to Tupelo, Mississippi, through a program called Global Outreach.

For a Global Outreach trip, you’re placed on a team of ten students, a leader (who is also a student), and a chaperone. These 12 team members get to know each other throughout the semester via weekly meetings, and this culminates in the service project. 

The trip I went on allowed me to serve as a counselor at a summer camp for Catholic children, called Camp Friendship. The experience was, in a word, transformative.

Participating in Global Outreach Mississippi changed the way I viewed the country I’ve lived in my entire life, my faith, summer camp, and my relationships, just to name a few. The campers were the sweetest, and my team members were amazing individuals who I still look up to long after our trip ended.

So, naturally, when I got the chance to chaperone the same trip, for a new group of students, I jumped at the chance (actual jumping may or may not have been involved).

As a chaperone instead of a participant, though, the team-building process leading up to the trip was much more difficult than I expected. It involved trekking to the Bronx once a week on a Sunday night and arriving home after midnight (like, way after) before work on Monday. It was a huge time commitment and a test of patience as well. Like, “how many times can I hear the same question about what to pack for Mississippi without rolling my eyes” test of my patience.

It of course was all worth it when we got to Camp Friendship. I was ecstatic to find that the magic that had made me fall in love with the camp the first time was still there. Yes, the beds were still glorified pieces of foam, and the bugs were way larger than I remember (or could ever imagine).

But, being a counselor at the camp was also just as fun as I remembered, if not more so. The campers were just as sweet and hysterical, and each one of them took a small piece of my heart when they went home at the end of the week. I’d have to say that watching my team members be transformed in their faiths, relationships, and world views- the same ways in which I was transformed four years ago — was probably the most rewarding part. I learned a lot from my team, and was able to grow from working with them. 

I think it’s important to give back to what shaped you.

Global Outreach Mississippi 2013 made me into the person that I am today, and I wanted to give some students that experience by chaperoning the 2017 trip. It made me love summer camp and working with kids. As I continue on in my life, it’s nice to know that I can have these experiences any time I’d like, by doing some kind of service. I can continue to serve without wanting to change anything, and without expecting anything back. 

As a chaperone, my goal was to give students that same opportunity that I had to experience something new with an open heart, to fall in love with something, and to change their lives. 

So, instead of a glamorous beach vacation, or traipsing around Europe, my memories consist of tie-dying shirts and making up songs about fried chicken with nine year olds. And I absolutely think that I made the right decision — and returned with a slightly fuller heart.

Sweet Summertime Fun

Adulting, Author: Claire Greene

Let’s face it: summer weather isn’t for everyone. There are some who live for days at the beach, while there are others who live for central air conditioning. But there are some ways to enjoy the spirit of summer, even on the hottest day.

Summer is the perfect time to relax, experience new things, and make lasting memories. Let’s get to it!

Go for a hike
Looking at all the different shades of colors, waterfalls, cliffs, and maybe even an animal or two, can really have a calming effect. Even listening to the gentle rustling of the leaves, the babbling of the brooks, and the calls of the birds is quite serene. The tall trees provide shade as you move amongst dappled leaves. Hiking is great any time of the year, but summer means longer days and later sunsets. It also means you won’t be shivering! Plus, summer nature truly can be a beauty.

Have a s’mores night
Who doesn’t love a good campfire and s’mores? There is something about the sounds of the crackling bonfire, the sweet smell of toasting marshmallows, and the melting chocolate that makes me relive all of the great times enjoying the night outside with friends, and eating every morsel of that sweet summer dessert.

Go for a drive
Sometimes, there is just nothing like driving to a great beach town with the windows down, blasting music and singing at the top of your lungs. There is something very freeing about having the wind blowing in your hair and feeling that summer breeze, your voices hoarse from singing so loudly. Everyone should have this experience at least once in his or her life.

Explore a city you haven’t seen before
It is rather exciting to step out of your comfort zone and explore an area where you’ve never been. It awakens all of your senses, with the smells, the sights, and the symphony of noises. Each city takes on a completely different feel and energy. Who knows what you’ll meet, or what you’ll experience. Summer is a great time to explore and travel, and you can do it on a budget, too. Be sure to take advantage of different places to eat while you’re there — you never know how different cities do bottomless brunch. It could surprise you!

Warm nights are the perfect time to just lay outside and look up at the sky. Grab a blanket and a pillow, and start making out different images in the stars. It’s a great way to clear your mind as well, and re-focus.

Have a beach day
For those who do prefer the heat of the summer, use one of your vacation days and head to a local beach for the day, even if you make it a solo trip. Grab a book, bring some headphones, whatever you need to help you relax — it’s a perfect way to make time for self-care!

Get some water
If you’re not a beach person but still want to enjoy spending time outside, make the most of your area pools and water parks. Both are fun ways to cool off, either alone or with a group. Local pools won’t break the bank, and many water parks offer season passes and packages.

Plan a gathering
Whether it’s a BBQ in your backyard or a pool party, who doesn’t love a good party during the summer? Bring your group together. Be the organizer — there’s truly no better time to make memories than the summer, even if you do have to wait for the weekend to do it!

How Millennials Won the 2016 Summer Olympics

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

Well, the summer classic came to a close this week. If you’ve followed the Olympics with any regularity (or, at the very least, have excitedly scrolled through the recaps on social media every morning, making you late for work more than once…whoops!), a few names probably come to mind as standout athletes.

Some of them being…Michael Phelps. Simone Biles. Aly Raisman. Katie Ledecky. Usain Bolt. Simone Manuel. Allyson Felix. And Ryan Lochte…but we won’t get into him so much (okay, maybe we will a bit later).

What do all of these athletes have in common, other than the fact that they’ve all medaled at this year’s games (with many taking home more than one medal)? They’re all millennials.

Yes, you heard me. While some like Phelps are on the older side of the millennial range and others like Biles are on the younger side of the generation, all of them are millennials, and all used the summer games to defy the stereotype. They all brought 150% through their practice and competitions.

As proof of their devotion, our country’s athletes won 46 gold medals, 37 silver medals and 38 bronze medals. That’s more medals than any other country competing in the 2016 Olympic Games. Five of those medals belonged to Biles, three for Raisman, five for Ledecky, four for Manuel, three for Felix and six for the veteran Phelps. As we’re not only talking about Team USA in terms of millennial athletes, Bolt brought three medals to his home country of Jamaica.

These athletes are perfect examples of millennials who exceed any and all expectations. They’re disproving the negative millennial stereotypes we’re working so hard to eliminate. They train for hours every day, rarely taking a day off. They travel not only to Rio, but also to a series of internationally-acclaimed shows and competitions over the course of the year. They stick to their diets and all other commitments.

The Lochte incident can certainly be one of the takeaways from these games, if you’re a “glass half empty” type of person. If you believe that one person out of thousands serves as a representation for an entire group of people (in this case – athletes or millennials – take your pick), you’re wrong. Why not look at the games as a whole – and celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of the athletes who sacrificed so much to get there?

Over the course of the games, we came across a Tweet from Cleveland Jackson that summed it up for us. “This is the two weeks where you don’t hear anyone critical of millennials’ work ethic.”

We salute you, millennial Olympic athletes. Thank you for showing the world that millennials are an international tour de force. It doesn’t matter if you’ve medaled. You made it to the Olympics – some of you more than once, and for those of you who were first-timers, I’m sure we’ll see many of you again in 2020. How many people in the world can say that?

Thanks, millennial Olympians, for beating the negative stereotypes, and for being millennials who show that hard work can lead to achieving seemingly impossible dreams.