Sometimes, I don’t think that our young people get enough credit for their good deeds and positive vibes in which they put out every day. Similar to the adult world, the criminal and negative activity conducted by a small percentage of our young people will get publicized but it’s very rare that the countless good deeds of the majority will get any attention at all.
Whenever I’m in the company of young people not only do I love hearing about what they are currently doing, but I also love to listen to their thoughts, ideas, and dreams about their future. It’s easy to get the wrong impression about some of today’s youth, especially when you enter a fast-food restaurant and the teen behind the counter greets you as if you’d just interrupted his or her break and everything mentioned about providing good customer service during their orientation went straight out the window after their first week on the job. And of course, not all teenagers act this way. Personally, I try to look pass these few young individuals who, unfortunately, give teenagers a bad reputation.
The open discussions I have during and after a classroom book talk session with students are some of the most engaging and intriguing discussions I’ve ever heard. The questions, comments, and opinions of some of these young people just blows my mind, and any reservations or doubts I might have had about our youth running the country in the future quickly dissipates after listening to the students intelligently articulate and express themselves on a wide range of subjects, including sex, politics, fashion trends, gun control, and race relations. What I enjoy most during my school book talks is how the students typically would freely say things that most people would only feel comfortable saying at the kitchen table or privately among their close friends or family members. In my personal opinion, I think that we need more of these open discussions in America so that we can improve our race relations and the basic way we treat each other here in America (and around the world.)
When I’m surrounded by these bright kids I wish that others could hear their thoughts and opinions about what’s going on in the world today. In my most recent high school visit, the students and I covered a wide range of interesting topics, including the removal of Confederate statues, the NFL national anthem – kneeling debate, the delayed Puerto Rico disaster FEMA relief, gun control, human trafficking, teen homelessness, bullying, immigration and DACA. I’ll never forget this most recent school visit because I was asked a question by one of the students in which I’d never been asked before. She asked, “Mr. Camp, if there was one person right now, in the whole world, who you would love to meet and ask him or her a few questions, who would it be?” You should’ve seen the looks on the kids’ faces as I quickly answered, “Malala Yousafzai”. And, interesting enough, my response to that question actually led us into another engaging and lively discussion.
Yes indeed, I have tremendous faith in our amazing youth, and I truly believe that we have a very bright future ahead. – Randolph Randy Camp
*(photo: Me standing amid high school students after a meet-the-author/book talk discussion.)