Maine makes me happy

Every summer, I have a wonderful time in Maine. I speak for two annual conferences, Aroostook Teen Leadership Conference (ATLC) and the Down East Teen Leadership Conference (DETLC) Every July, I can’t wait to explore the Northern and the Down East regions of Maine. While I love the scenery, the massive trees, the beautiful water, the potato fields, the roadside blueberry stands, and the lobster, this is not what I love the most.
I love the people I see just once each year. I love the interaction, albeit very brief, that I am allowed to have with them. I love the love I feel from each staff member I’ve gotten to know. Lastly, I love the campers I meet. These middle school students are some of the sweetest students I encounter. There is a real innocence, a real energy and a real desire to make a difference. They don’t just commit to a week’s camp, they commit to years of “togetherness.”
ATLC just celebrated their 25th year. I’ve been a part of this program for the past fourteen. DETLC is relatively new, but has been operating for at least eight years. Terri Woodruff and Jack Foster have always been the camp directors. I have witnessed their dedication, their service and their love for their respective programs. I have such empathy for them—wondering year to year if there will be enough funding to continue. Each year, it gets just a little bit harder, and so does their commitment to ensure that the programs don’t end.
I am also honored that I have the privilege to share the stage with three other youth speakers, Ed Gerety, Patty Hendrickson and Javier Sanchez. I don’t recommend or recognize speakers who don’t live their message. Trust me when I say these three do. I’m proud they are my colleagues and also my friends.
I’m thankful I have the type of job that allows me to travel to wonderful places, and to constantly meet new people. I’m also thankful for clients who hire me year after year. These clients are definitely my friends, and most importantly, they feel like family.
Ahhhh…Maine. The way life should be.

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