At Northwest Catholic in West Hartford, all sophomores must complete a Sophomore Service Project. What these sophomores often discover, however, is their service project is never really completed. Students like Daniel Ogbonna, now a senior at the school, is still volunteering for the camps where he spent his summer sophomore year.
This past summer Ogbonna served as camp counselor to two groups sponsored by programs offered at his church and through the church’s network, the Southern New England Ministry Network (SNEMN).
Ogbonna served as a tribe leader at “MakerFunFactory” Vacation Bible School. Through a series of catchy worship songs, large group lessons, and activities throughout the program, Ogbonna taught children how to be creative, thoughtful, Christian servants in their community.
“What has been most awe-inspiring is learning from the children and from my service to them,” Ogbonna remarked. “My intentions early on were simply to fulfill the community service requirement for my school, but after completing the requirement, I learned that my time spent with the children was for a great purpose, and I began to fall in love with the work.”
Ogbonna continued, “I have encountered so many amazing kids, all coming from different walks of life, and what is so special about them all being different is that their diversity has challenged me — my character, my service, and my ability to lead.”
After working at Vacation Bible School, Ogbonna volunteered as a leader in training at a Christian retreat camp in Rumney, New Hampshire.
“It was amazing,” Ogbonna exclaimed. This camp definitely holds a special place in my heart. From the time I attended until now, the camp counselors, deans, and staff is incredible. They desperately care for every child.”
In every activity, game, and chapel service, Ogbonna was tasked with creating an atmosphere where his campers were best able to receive the pastor’s message, and have fun doing it.
Ogbonna reflected on his time spent with a camper who had eczema, which prevented her from participating in many group activities. This upset her and made her feel different from the rest of the children. Ogbonna knew in that situation and others like it, he needed to make sure she knew she was loved and was born for a specific purpose. Every day he made it a goal to spend time with her, have a conversation, and say a prayer together.
Ogbonna reflected, “These opportunities definitely challenged me as a person and led me to discovering some essential truths. First, that a leader is not an individual who sits in a position of status or power, but rather one who can motivate and encourage others to achieve a common goal. Second, the importance of humility and asking for help when necessary.” Ogbonna concluded, “I will certainly take the many lessons I learned this summer into account as I finish my senior year at Northwest Catholic. I will also look for ways to use these lessons to strengthen me to become a better servant, student, and community leader.”