All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The Hero Within MAG
It looked like a picture postcard. The trees stood tall, their leaves blowing in the wind. Sunlight breached the few clouds in the sky to give warmth to the entire camp. Kids ran and played under the bright blue sky.
Hayden and I sat at a picnic table and I showed Hayden my toys.
“What did you bring today?” Hayden asked, his abnormally large smile taking up his entire face. I smiled back as I turned my bag upside down, the action figures spilling onto the table. Hayden frowned.
“Action figures?” he asked.
“These are more than just action figures,” I said. “I used to play with them when I was young. They’re infused with special magic and have superpowers!” Hayden’s face lit up like a sky filled with fireworks.
“Can they fly? Do they have super strength?” he asked in anticipation. I chuckled.
“Well, yeah, but being a superhero is about more than just what you find in a comic book. They each have unique powers.”
“Ok!” Hayden exclaimed as he picked up the first figure. “Who’s this?”
“This is The Integritizer. He has the power of Integrity. Integrity is different from all the other powers because it’s not a quality you can see. It’s about doing things according to your moral compass. Not just the big things, but the small things. Whether I say hi to someone as I walk past them, hold the door open, or give a compliment. It’s those acts that make someone’s day a little better. Integrity is the ultimate test for a potential superhero. You have to be able to know that the decision you’re making is the one that feels right.”
“How will I know if the decision I’m making is the right one?” Hayden asked.
“You don’t. The best thing you can do is try to be good. Integrity will follow.” I reached for the next figure.
“This is Couragix. He has the mighty power of courage. For me, I have to be courageous with my writing. I’m not writing anything that’ll change the world. At least, not yet. The first step of being a good writer is the ability to put yourself out there. The emotions and ideas that I put into my writing are personal. Writing is the truest way I express myself. And if people don’t like what they find, that’s ok. I’m still going to write because it’s who I am.” I reached for the last figure.
“Dang, is this the last superhero?” Hayden asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I have more at home, but today we only have enough time for you to meet three of them. This is Captain Hope. Last summer, a friend of mine got very sick and passed away. I had many different emotions running through me because of it. I thought about what life was really about and how I was going to move forward. Hope showed me that even though awful things happen, we have to be able to focus on the good parts of life. When you can learn to do that, moving forward becomes easier. It’s because of my friend that I decided the best thing I could do in his memory was try to make a difference in the lives of other people who had similar experiences. That’s why I’m here at camp with you.”
“Dylan,” Hayden began, “are you a superhero?”
I laughed. “I try to be.”
“Are superheroes real?” he asked.
I paused, then answered. “Yes. They’re just not what you see in the comics. They don’t have capes. They can’t fly and they don’t have super strength. They’re just regular people who are trying to make life better for everyone.”
“I think I get it.”
We leapt from the table. Sunlight spread over camp as we sat in the center of a grass field and played with some magical action figures.
Author’s note: I was raised by parents who taught me how important it is to give to others. They instilled in me their own beliefs of philanthropy and duty to others – beliefs that make me who I am. It is because of these beliefs that led me to be a counselor at Sunrise Day Camp, a place that offers a free camp experience to kids and families that have been affected by pediatric cancer. This past summer, I spent time with Hayden, a 10-year-old who was diagnosed with leukemia as a toddler. My time with him was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and affected my thoughts on what it means to be a kid.