My Coleman camper: A story of thankfulness gone gratitude

In my driveway there sometimes sits a 1991 Coleman popup camper. When I come home from work it greets me as if a loyal dog-sometimes I even give our family’s faithful companion a loving pat on my way to the back door of our home. It’s the first camper that my wife and I have ever owned and we are quite proud of that beauty. Once popped up, our family of six fits neatly inside the friendly confines of our home on wheels. No, it’s not the latest and greatest fifth wheel on the market and in “camper years” some may even say it is getting up there in age. We love it nonetheless. The camper has accompanied us to places like Mesa Verde, O’Haver Lake (numerous times) and has been set up several times for use along the side of our house. There is no question that we are fond of our camper and anticipate many more adventures together with it.

Personally, the camper is like a Transformer for adults who refuse to grow up. I could pop it up and collapse multiple times in a single day and that would qualify as a good day. Our camper is more than just the right combination of wheels, metal and plastic. The way in which our camper became a part of our lives, however, has given it far greater significance than any of the cool features it offers. During the end of the summer in 2012, a family gave us our beloved camper. It was a complete gift with no strings attached. While we had previously enjoyed camping as a family, in no way were we in a position to buy a camper. We were so thankful to our friends that chose to bless us with their camper.

In the time that has passed since we were given the camper, I have come to realize that I was more than just thankful for the gift of the camper. My thankfulness had transformed into gratefulness that then has been expressed through a position of gratitude. Thankfulness can simply occur when we are glad that something did or did not happen. Gratitude is thankfulness that is armed at the ready to show appreciation and even return kindness. Gratitude takes thankfulness to the next level. How do I know I am more than just thankful? Instead of just using the camper for my family, we have allowed different sets of friends of ours to borrow our camper for excursions of their own. The gift that was given to us now gets extended through us to others. It’s the “pay it forward” principle and it is done without resistance. It is pure joy.

This concept of thankfulness and gratitude shows itself to me on an almost daily basis as a coordinator for the Chaffee County Mentors and Youth In Action Programs. I’m grateful for the mentors who are currently matched or are waiting to be matched who have willingly chosen to give a part of their life for another. Many of these people have plenty to do and all of them could choose to spend their time differently-vacations, running a business or pursuing a personal ambition to name just a few. To the mentors who could easily justify that they have contributed enough to society and yet mentor or the mom who is juggling family, work and still finds time to mentor, I am grateful for you. You inspire me to be more like you, to pay it forward.

I am grateful for the mentors who choose to accept their mentees where they are at in life and do not expect absolute perfection from their mentees.

When gratitude is regularly practiced, one can be thankful even in the most difficult situations. These types of people often have the “glass is half full” mentality. I’m grateful for people like this. Depending on which side of gratitude you find yourself on, when the dark cloud of disappointment threatens to swallow you whole, you will either go by the direction of despair or will find the strength to fight for a brighter day. Choose to live a life of gratitude.

I’m thankful for the young people who have chosen to be in the Chaffee County Mentor’s Program. I’m thankful that these young people are willing to take a chance on building a relationship with an adult they may not even know. I’m grateful for the young people who are patiently waiting to be matched and look forward in great anticipation to the day in which they are matched. Thanks to these young people I desire to be more patient. Due to the gratitude that I have for the many mentors I’ve had and have in my life, I’m eager to discover more people in Chaffee County who might become a part of the mentors program.

So, take a look around. Look at the “camper” in your life and consider how it wound up at your house. Whether you’ve had dozens of mentors or just one, apply some gratitude and begin to experience a whole new world open up to you. Perhaps you’ll give us a call at Chaffee County Mentors and we’ll help you begin the journey of becoming a mentor or mentee. When you do connect with us you can be sure of one thing, you’ll be met with thankfulness!

Kenny Wilcox
Chaffee County Mentors and Youth In Action Coordinator

“Chaffee County Mentors Program is committed to strengthening our community by connecting our young people to purpose and self-worth through positive one on one mentoring relationships.”

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2 Responses to “My Coleman camper: A story of thankfulness gone gratitude”

  1. Deb Juchem

    Great article Kenny, right up there with your wonderful and colourful XC updates! My favourite line is..."...when the dark cloud of disappointment threatens to swallow you will live to fight for a brighter day. Chose to live a life of gratitude". I've been trying very hard to apply that principle lately and it really, really does work...choose to live a life of gratitude and you end up feeling happy, so simple and yet so effective.

    Like (2)
  2. Denise Wentz

    Your article was so beautiful. I am so grateful to be a mentor to a wonderful 7 year old girl. I can't express how this relationship has given me such joy and has enriched my life. Being a mentor to her is a honor.

    Like (3)