Saturday, June 9, 2007

Small World

In the grocery store today I was stopped by a young woman who said she knew me. I apologized because I didn't remember her. When she asked what kind of work I do, I mentioned my years working for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Her eyes brightened and she asked my name. Turns out she was one of the 100-150 high school students selected to attend annual Red Cross Youth Leadership Development Conferences (LDC) in the 1990s. We commiserated over one, particularly memorable conference at Hood College in Frederick, MD. The temperatures were over 100 for five days and dropped into the breezy 70s the day we left. Hood is a picturesque, historic college, therefore without air conditioning (back then) except in a newer classroom building. The opening session in the chapel nearly knocked us all out -- the windows didn't open. When it ended and we stepped outside, 104 actually felt cool!! As a workshop facilitator, I was expected to be fresh and energetic every day to keep the kids enthusiastically involved in learning about teamwork, values clarification, group dynamics and other skills useful to budding leaders. Every evening was spent chaperoning pool parties or movies -- THEN preparing for the next day's activities while keeping one eye peeled for dorm escapees. Sleep was impossible because the rubber covered dorm mattresses felt like they were on fire and big window fans were useless! Even though I started out a nervous wreck, every year when the last day came, everyone -- facilitators and kids alike -- hugged and cried because it was over. I couldn't have told you my middle name at that point, but at least, according to this young woman, LDC made a positive impact. What a joy to be validated after all these years!! Thank you, Denise -- you made my day!

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