St. Olaf CollegeLilly Program for Lives of Worth and ServiceSt. Olaf College

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About the Lilly Grant Program

Lilly Grant Program for Lives of Worth and Service
Bruce Dalgaard, Program Director
Old Main Annex 3
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057

507-646-3626 Fax

Emily Koester

Working at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp was probably one of the most difficult and yet most worthwhile things I have done during my life. I got the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, from 3 rd graders to 11 th graders, and even entire families during family camp weeks. Working with such a variety of people, both among the campers and among the staff, helped give me a taste of what kinds of skills it takes to work with different types of people. Even more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to assess the kind of commitment and devotion it takes to give your life to others. For years I have been planning to become a teacher and have also considered joining the Peace Corps, and the insights that I gained from this summer helped me define where I would work best.

Since I was young and until the present I have planned on teaching elementary school. Naturally this summer I was very excited for my first junior camp week (ages 9-11). Although it was indeed a good week, I realized I didn't connect with that age group as much as I had hoped to. Both my high school weeks, on the other hand, turned out to be excellent despite some initial qualms about working with older campers. I felt that I was able to connect well with my high-schoolers and be a positive mentor that they could confide in. I found them to be inspirational as well many of them had to deal with extremely difficult life issues that I hadn't gone through myself, and yet they were hopeful and positive despite it all. Though young kids were fun to work with, I found that working with teens was a more worthwhile role for me personally. They were at a point in their lives when they really needed some guidance about decisions, and I loved giving them both advice and a listening ear to help them clarify where they wanted to go in life.

Although it was an excellent summer and I met many outstanding people, it doesn't mean that it was always easy. Between no personal time and little sleep, I sometimes felt pushed to the brink of exhaustion. But that was a lesson in itself. A life of service is not an easy one, and a person shouldn't go in to service expecting it to always be a good time. You serve for the sake of love, not for the sake of pure fun (though hopefully you'll enjoy it along the way). Watching other staff members give of themselves also inspired me to keep doing the best job that I could. I know whatever path of service I choose, whether it's the Peace Corps, teaching, or something entirely different, I won't go expecting it to be easy but I will go knowing that despite the challenge, it is one of the most worthwhile investments I could ever make.