Read full letter transcript below.
Nathaniel Collins, Chair of Camp Fire National Youth Advisory Cabinet (YAC) and junior at Iowa State University, knows the impact written encouragement can make. He received a letter as a senior in high school four years ago. The letter came with him to college and when asked about it, he knew exactly where to find it in his residence hall room, which, according to him, “isn’t always neat as it should be.” Though Nathaniel may not know where to find every school book and homework assignment, he did find the letter right away.
When he received it from a Camp Fire mentor he looked up to, Nathaniel said, “It made me feel recognized. In fact, it made me feel fantastic.” Nathaniel explained that though he had been involved in his council and contributed to his council’s annual AIKD breakfast, he still felt a certain lack of influence and wished he had more reach than he did. Though he’d help set up the event and contributed an auction item, Nathaniel still felt…there was so much more he wanted to do. When he received the letter, he realized someone he respected recognized his effort, even though, in his opinion, it was minimal. “She saw I was trying to be someone bigger than myself and contribute more than I could at the time.” Through the recognition the letter provided, Nathaniel felt empowered to “keep going.” He did. And four years after getting the letter, it continues to encourage his momentum.
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I know you ended up writing letters to other kids, telling them how incredible they are—but you’re still kind of a kid to me., and I have to tell you how incredible you are!
What I admire most about you is your positive attitude and how you bring energy to everything you do. You always do your best when volunteering—you contribute ideas and are willing to try everything, even if you haven’t done it before.
I especially like how you want to improve what you see as personal weaknesses. It’s refreshing to know someone your age who wants to do better, and has looked inward to see what needs improvement.
I look forward to working (and playing!) with you for MANY years to come! You’re an absolutely incredible kid!