Photo credit: Anthony Isensee
When a Youth director approached Ricardo about working at Camp Wakonda in the summer, Ricardo did not hesitate. Camp Wakonda is a distinctively Christ-centered camp in Marquette County, Wis.; its mission is to show campers, through everything they do, a taste of the incredible love that God has for His people. Ricardo felt this mission aligned perfectly with his beliefs about the work Christians are called to do.
“I just knew right away working at Camp Wakonda was something I would enjoy getting involved in.” Although Camp Wakonda was eventually cancelled last summer due to COVID-19, Ricardo didn’t let that stop him.
Since COVID-19 also prevented him from studying abroad for college, his pastor asked if he would like to get involved with the youth at church. “I saw that as opportunity to get more involved with the kids from my local church,” says Ricardo, who gladly took on the challenge.
Now, Ricardo has visited three schools — with four more on his list, meeting and interacting with dozens of students, ages six to 14. While visiting the children, Ricardo enjoys making tie dye shirts and slime with them. “My favorite part is seeing their smiles and knowing I’m making their days a little better,” admits Ricardo. “The kids really enjoy the Bible stories we tell them. I genuinely enjoy helping them and giving up my free time to do so.”
As a pastor’s kid, Ricardo fondly recalls the influence his dad has had and credits his father with cultivating an innate love for helping others. “My dad always puts God first — he made that really clear to us growing up. No matter what I do, that’s my ultimate goal. When I play soccer, work, hang out with friends, I put God first. In our home, it doesn’t matter what happens, we put Him first. That has been the key in guiding my decisions.”
Ricardo encourages other young people to be a positive influence on those around them. “I’ve seen so many kids who remember me from visits and sometimes seemingly minor interactions,” Ricardo explains. “It really shows me how much of an impact we can have on their lives. That’s powerful.”
Andrews University alum Danni Thaw is a freelance writer.