A Passion for Kindness
By Addie Burchell
“I just like to bring out the best in people,” says Zachary Mason, a recent Ohio University graduate. Serving all summer long at a kids camp in Fort Collins, Colorado, Zach brings joy and life to each and every activity. By 8:00 am each morning, he is drenched in sweat from excitedly jumping and dancing to welcome his campers.
Whether he's leading his fifth grade boys in a chant through the halls or duking it out in an intense game of kickball, Zach gives all of his energy to his campers. Never does he place his own interests above those of his kids. When interactions with his campers leave him frustrated, he quickly purges these feelings, reminding himself that his life is not just about him. “Looking at my co-workers loving on the kids helps point me back in the right direction when I loose focus,” says Zach. He understands how important his job as a counselor is. “My kids are going to look at me and if I am not excited then they won’t be either.”
During breaks he can be found cracking jokes or comforting coworkers. When the camp janitor broke up with her boyfriend over the weekend, Zach was there to dry her tears. “I really try in every situation to put myself in other people’s shoes” says Zach, who never leaves a person in need of comfort. “I think the Golden Rule applies in most situations. I have a deep desire to be loved and cared for by others. I have no right to complain that people aren’t fulfilling this desire if I don’t go the extra mile myself,” explains Zach.
Peering into the hearts of those around him, Zach can easily spot a person in distress. Instead of fleeing the needy, he runs right to them, offering a hug or an encouraging word. His co-counselors describe him as being “intentional with every moment” and “a leader in humility and actions.” They witnessed how “people were drawn to him and followed him because of his confidence and kindness. He constantly builds people up.” Zach’s favorite way to spread love to his campers is through personal conversation. He believes that one-on-one time is vital for anyone working with kids. “They need to be pulled aside for encouragement not just criticism,” says Zach, who witnessed countless young faces change as they began to realize how much they were truly cared for.
As a counselor, Zach realizes the importance of both learning and having fun. He told his campers that even if they had a terrible time at camp but learned more about themselves, it would be a success. All fun without any self-improvement holds little value to Zach. Co-counselor Caroline Hardaway described Zach as someone who “is silly and has fun but knows when to draw kids in and be serious.” Balance in life is something that Zach has instilled in each of his campers.
In the fall, Zach will continue to spread his passion for kindness and excitement for life by making an impact on the lives of inner-city youth in Nashville, Tennessee, serving with Preston Taylor Ministries. He is excited, expectant and ready to spread more cheer. Zach Mason made summer camp so very memorable for his group of ten-year-old boys; through vibrant enthusiasm and constant support, he made a difference in the lives of the next generation.