How You Can Help on National Make a Difference Day

October 24, 2017
Tori Barnes

In honor of National Make a Difference Day on October 28, ACA Staff Member Tori Barnes shares some ways you and your camp friends can help your local community.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear local Rotary volunteers share stories of how a simple idea at a happy hour turned into a citywide viral day of giving. I was inspired and moved to hear the behind-the-scenes details and see the passion that created a movement bigger than they could have ever imagined. How does a small group of friends design a movement that motivated more than 23,000 volunteers to give back 56, 501 volunteer hours to just one city on one day? How can we have more of this happen in the neighborhoods, towns, and cities we live in? I suspect the camp community knows better than just about anyone how to bring people together to make a difference.

In the aftermath of tragedies like the mass shooting in Las Vegas, hurricanes hitting the Southeast, fires in the West, we are in need of a serious dose of kindness in the world. I’ve seen camps and camp pros not only make a difference for a generation of youth, but also step up and support rebuilding camps or housing evacuees and first responders. Camp people persistently demonstrate that they are the change we want to see in the world.

The annual Make a Difference Day will take place across the country this Saturday, October 28. You can participate by submitting your own project for volunteers or pick a project that that speaks to you. If your camp submitted a project — great! But even if your camp didn’t submit a project, it’s not too late to be a volunteer on Saturday. You may be helping to build a home for the homeless, tend to a local garden, paint a mural, read to a child, and more. Invite your camp staff to join you for a service-focused reunion, share your favorite volunteer project on social media, or think about ways you can encourage your campers to pay it forward by participating in Make a Difference Day.

Remember, as cool as it is to be a part of something as big as Make a Difference Day, it’s not the only option. Here are some ideas you can use to make a difference in your camps and communities.

  1. Do something nice daily. Grand gestures aren’t always necessary, so find ways to give more compliments, give out hugs or high fives, volunteer at a local library, and before you know it, you’ll be a changemaker.
  2. Engage in a random act of kindness. Write an email to a friend or co-worker thanking them or congratulating them for an accomplishment.
  3. Volunteer for ACA or give a hand to the camp nearby.

Make a Difference Day reminds us that we can do a little, change a lot. How will you make a difference?

Tori Barnes is a staff member of the American Camp Association. Her experience includes 20 years of day and resident camp directing, with focused work on leadership and development. 

Photo courtesy of Camp Eagle Ridge in Mellen, Wisconsin