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On the first day of summer camp, we were broken into colored groups: our teams for the next few weeks. I was immediately surrounded by a group of strangers, forced to collaborate and communicate with other kids who didn’t seem the slightest bit like me. This group meant nothing to me—I had no obligation to them and they had no responsibility to support me either in the tug of war or water balloon games to come. 

A few weeks later, this group evolved from some random kids I had just met to my summer camp community. We weren’t just the red group, we were RED team. Each time Nate went up to the obstacle course, we cheered him on, or when it was Liliana’s turn to eat the pie, we screamed proudly. And when it was my turn to take the stage, I knew I had to try hard for my team and my team chanted their hearts out for me. We banded together, supporting each other, and building our own family unit through communication, collaboration, and empathy. 

Though a small example from summer camp, I discovered the clear distinction between a group and a community. The group was a few people with no responsibility or empathy towards each other while the community had a bond and strong sense of support and love. Similarly, I was a member of the group but I belonged in the community. It is the human connection that creates the difference between these two words. I am reminded of this sense of community when working with The Community Fund of Darien because this nonprofit revolves around the Darien community and works solely to support others in the community. A group simply would not have that same connection.

Communication is clear in a community—sometimes we listen and other times we speak. No matter which, we are always contributing. Through these collaborative efforts, we can effect real change. The Community Fund of Darien makes many efforts to connect with the community by organizing surveys to focus groups to public events to weekly email blasts. There is a constant line of communication between the two allowing for clear discussion on what problems there are and how they can be addressed. Just this week, I made strides to organize a focus group to discuss the potential of creating a volunteer center. In short, the values of a community can help carry it towards success and inspire every member belonging to that community.