Claire Plath Interview by Larissa Chelius Nomination and Photography by Alicia Crosson Photography California Issue 18 | Volunteer
The Nomination: I am privileged to nominate one of my inspiring teens for this special opportunity! Claire is currently a sophomore in high school, on her school's tennis team, involved in various clubs, planning committees, and leadership teams through school and church. She is highly respected by her friends, classmates, and teachers. Claire also helps coach Cheer for younger girls in her community. One quality I would love to focus on in Claire is her kind, loving heart towards people of all different sizes, races, needs, and ethnicities. Claire volunteers her time during the summer to help assist those with special needs at a special needs camp. She has also participated as a "buddy" to guests with special needs for a National Prom Organization called Night to Shine, through the Tim Tebow Foundation. Claire truly radiates God's love and kindness to the world, and it would be so wonderful to see her being recognized in this way. Thank you so much for your consideration, and for providing this special opportunity for teens to be recognized with all of their wonderful characteristics and gifts to the world!
What was your experience at Night to Shine like?
My experience at Night to Shine was very unforgettable and heartwarming. It was amazing to be able to experience the pure joy my date felt as we spent the whole time dancing, singing, and laughing the night away. The friendship that I was able to build with my date at Night to Shine was so uplifting and special, and I hope to continue to volunteer every year!
Tell me a little bit about the various activities you do with those who have special needs.
Night to Shine is something I help out with every year and is an annual event for those with special needs where they get to experience their own prom by being paired with a volunteer for the night. It is a ministry that was founded by Tim Tebow a few years back, and now more than 655 churches across the world host it! It is put together to be exactly like a prom from red carpet, to limos, to dinner, to dancing, and last but not least, having all the guests crowned kings and queens of the prom!
Another activity I help with is the buddy program at my church, where volunteers are trained to be paired up with children who have special needs, so they are able to attend church while having a “buddy” with them for extra support.
Lastly, one of the biggest highlights of my life is attending Camp Barnabas. Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp in Missouri for those with special needs where they get to spend one full week paired up with a missionary and can share an amazing experience through fun and spiritual activities. Campers come from all over the U.S to attend, they look forward to it every year!
What does it mean to become a missionary in June for Camp Barnabas, and what do you do as a missionary? At Camp Barnabas, I was selected to be a missionary which is a buddy for a camper you are matched up with for that week. The role of a missionary begins with months of training and learning how to serve and be there for the campers in the ways that are needed. At camp, you are with your camper 23 hours a day, and with the role of a missionary comes great responsibility and patience. It is a physical, mental, and emotional rollercoaster while serving as a missionary, due to the complexity of needs a camper may have. Some campers may be nonverbal, while others may have serious physical limitations, but no matter who you are paired up with, the bond you build with your camper is truly life changing. My camper last summer was named Emily and she has been attending Camp Barnabas for years. After the week I spent with her, she became my dear best friend. Emily was the most patient, kind, compassionate, and encouraging person I had ever met. I was able to create a very close bond with her and after the week we spent together, we keep in touch! She will always hold a special place in my heart, as will all the memories and friendships made at Camp Barnabas.
What have you been able to learn by working with those who have special needs?
While working with special needs I have been able to learn to remain positive and patient through any trials I go through. The joy of being able to work with those with special needs has impacted my view on life greatly. I have learned to try to have a selfless attitude towards others, and to apply what I feel when I work with those who have special needs to my everyday life. They have taught me to find joy in every situation, and to be present in the moment which is something I will forever be grateful for.
Image by Dallas Hamm
Do you participate in any other community service projects, if so, what do you do?
I am involved in playing on the Varsity tennis team at my school, and I help coach Upward Cheer at my church for younger girls. I am a member of the Christian Club at my school, and I take photography and have grown to love it. Lastly, I am on the Student Leadership Committee for my church youth group where we plan upcoming events and lessons!
Claire will be featured in Issue 18 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!