Connecting youth to the future of their community

Originally published on 10/11’s Pure Nebraska Program.

The Diller Youth Serviceship Camp is pulling back the curtain for campers and showing them how a community really works.

The camp is organized and supported by the Diller Community Foundation Fund (DCFF), an affiliated fund in the Nebraska Community Foundation network. In 2023, 21 students from first through sixth grades participated. The program not only shows campers how a community works, but invites them to help co-create a place where people feel both welcomed and like they belong.

The camp includes a Community Asset Tour focused on Diller’s past, present, and the future participants want to see. Attendees are asked to identify what they love about the community and what they think could make the town an even better place to live. Not only are campers asked to think about the things that would strengthen Diller, but they also take action by chipping in on various community projects and discovering what it really means to be a leader in the process.

The day was topped off by a Pitch Presentation from the four teams. Each selected one dream, created a pitch, and presented their ideas to community leaders from the village board, school, Opera House Society, Fire and Rescue Department, and DCFF. They included the name of the project, who it would benefit, how it would benefit the community and what resources they felt would be needed to make the project happen. Two groups promoted the idea of a pool. Another team proposed an indoor trampoline venue using the upstairs of a Main Street business. Renovating the park’s restrooms to be fully accessible, along with a below ground storm shelter for campers, was the pitch of the fourth crew.

Each camper left their mark by placing a handprint on a section of the sidewalk in the park along with the camp theme and year. Every camper left with a themed tee shirt, application to participate in the DCFF Youth Philanthropy Contest and the knowledge that they can make a mark in their community.

Camp leaders hope the experience creates a lasting impact, inspiring the children of today to internalize the importance of being invested, interested, and involved in the future of their communities as they get older.

“Leadership is not about power. It’s about service,” said Kayla Schnuelle of the Diller Community Foundation Fund. “In the heart of our small rural community of Diller, the seeds of servant leadership are sown through the Youth Serviceship Camp, and the harvest is a future filled with compassionate, capable leaders.”

Diller’s next Youth Serviceship Camp will happen this summer.

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