This summer, I worked as a volunteer counselor at The Ross School for three, four, and five year olds. The Ross School is an educational institution which runs from September through June and a day camp throughout the summer. Ross places an emphasis on organic and local foods as well as promoting an open, accepting environment. During the two weeks in which I was a counselor, I was part of an Early Childhood group called “Creative Explorations.” Each morning, two other counselors, an instructor, and I were joined with about nine three to five year olds. Our objective was to educate the children on music, art, and nature as well as its inhabitants. The Ross facility is equipped with a vegetable garden to which we travelled every other day on nature walks. We often aided the children in dissecting a plant or fruit to unearth its insides and find different ways the vegetation could be used. They sketched and (in the case of a fruit) ate the plant. When we took apart a tomato, we taught the kids about the names of its different components. In the afternoons, we organized numerous art projects for the children. During the afternoon art period, it was crucial to step back and let the toddlers work alone. As a counselor, I found it essential to evaluate the influence I was having on the young children.
Throughout my experience, I became aware of my impact on the children as well as their impact on me during my two weeks at Ross. During the initial days of camp, many of the children were reluctant to complete their own art projects and continued to ask me to write their names at the bottom and draw circles, hearts, or other desired shapes. Every day, I encouraged the kids to explore and attempt to draw and write on their own. By the end of the two weeks, all of the kids were comfortable and confident with their own drawing skills. They were unafraid to be creative. As a result, I became conscientious of everyday moments in which people impact other’s lives. It can happen in just a split second; someone may smile at a stranger and change the course of their day. I started realize these minute yet significant moments that could impact others. It reminded me of a statement of guidance from the Dalai Lama, which was to “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Every new second contains the chance to impact someone’s life with mere kindness. Even the smallest of creatures have a great impact on the world. As said by the theorist and biologist Edward Osborne Wilson, “Ants are the dominant insects of the world, and they’ve had a great impact on habitats almost all over the land surface of the world for more than fifty million years.” Many small acts can affect lives similar to the way in which numerous minuscule ants can have an effect on the earth. Especially at a young age, children have a tendency to be easily influenced. As a volunteer counselor this summer, I had the incredible opportunity to encourage self-confidence in young children, which will hopefully impact the rest of their lives.