I attended a reunion for former staff at YMCA Storer Camps last weekend. One of the events was celebrating 75 years of their horse program including 50 years of a dedicated ranch just for would-be wranglers.
Tom Brown brought out a horse named Zach. Zach was 29 years old and had been giving rides to children for 24 years.
"Just think about all the kids Zach has carried these past 24 years, raising their self-esteem and giving them an experience they'll never forget."
I admit I got choked up. At that moment I looked around and realized there were close to 200 former staff members in attendance. Like Zach, we all had lifted up children, raised their self-esteem, and gave them experiences they'll never forget.
A single counselor in a single summer has direct influence on at least 48 campers and indirect influence on another 200-300 kids. Some of the people at the reunion had worked at camp for decades.
Doing some quick math, I figure collectively, the people in that dining hall last Saturday night had influenced over half a million children, most who were better for that experience. And those children went on to make a difference in the lives of others. And so on and so on.
This kind of ripple effect is not just reserved for camp counselors and teachers and people who work with youth. Indie retailers also make difference. You make a difference because you care about what products you sell. You make a difference because you care about the experiences you offer. You make a difference in the lives of your customers. You make a difference because of your involvement in your community.
Sometimes it is worth it to stop and think about the ripple effect you have on your market. You've made a huge difference in the lives of many of your customers. Some of them have paid it forward by shopping more local, by referring others to local shops, and by doing more to support you and your community.
You've made an incredible impact on your community that reaches exponentially farther than you can imagine.
Keep up the good work. The ripple effect is amazing. Just ask George Bailey.
PS It is good to take stock from time to time and remind yourself about the influence you have to change the world around you. It grows exponentially every single year. Do something worthy.