For those of you that don't know, which is probably everyone reading this, the raggers program is a goal setting program that is around the world at different YMCA summer camps. It is God-centered but you don't have to believe in God to get a rag.

In 1914 there was a sports camp and at the end of the week the supervisor would give out trophies for each person for their best sports ability for example "the best three-pointer." When the supervisor was giving out awards he forgot to make one award for a boy that was in a wheelchair, and he's realizing this while the boy is coming up to him. This boy had the best sportsmanship that this supervisor had ever seen, he was always cheering people on and giving them positive feedback. So he pulls out a blue rag that was in his back pocket and he knots it around the boy's neck and tells this boy that this rag is not just a rag but a symbol for his great sportsmanship, and his personal growth throughout the week. This is how the raggers program started.

You're not allowed to get your first rag until you turn 12, but you don't have to get your first rag when you turn 12, you can get it at any age after 12. There are seven rags you are able to get and each rag has a different challenge for you to base your goal off of. You can get a new rag every year, with no cost, and you have to go in order of each rag, you can't skip any colors.

The colors of the rags and challenges are:

* Blue rag: A focus on God, country, and becoming one’s best self

* Silver rag: Acceptance and rededication to the Christian way of life or spiritual growth

* Brown rag: Accepting the challenge for Christian service

* Gold rag: Understanding and concern for others

* Red rag: Sacrificing of time, talent, and will

* Purple rag: Excellence and noble living in all Christian service opportunities

* White rag: Lifelong commitment to Christian service

On each rag is the same symbol of four shapes that each represent something different. The first shape is a circle that represents friendship which surrounds a square that represents spiritual, mental, physical, and social. The square surrounds a triangle that represents spirit, mind, and body. And finally, you have a cross that represents the center of our lives and hearts.

The process of getting the rag is finding a person with the rag you want or higher to counsel you. Each rag has a study guide that has at least three bible verses on it that you and your counselor go over. After you are counseled for your rag you have your raggers ceremony which is when you get your rag. There is no accepting and unaccepting to the raggers program, no one can keep you from getting a rag. Each rag is a symbol of your personal growth, spiritual growth, and the challenge you have accepted for yourself, the rag that you get has a meaning that YOU gave it.

I got my blue rag when I was 12 and I recently got my red rag this summer. I have seen huge growth in myself because of these rags. Each rag has helped me better myself personally and spiritually with the help of only one person of my choice.

I always feel like when people ask me if I have a goal I have to have a goal that pleases them and have to have it accomplished within a few days. But with rags, you have a person help you get your rag and helps you come up with a goal the best fits yourself. And if you complete that goal in a year, okay good get your next one, but if you don’t complete the goal then that's fine you can keep working on it with no pressure to accomplish it. Also, these rags are lifelong so even if you completed your rag in a year you can still make sure that you remember that goal and that you're still accomplishing that goal a year later.

I have many friends that are in the raggers program and I have even been given the opportunity to counsel people that have wanted to get rags and for each person, it gives them the perfect chance to change themselves for the better. If this raggers program was everywhere and not just at YMCA summer camps I think the world can change a lot. The raggers program gives you connections with people that you probably wouldn’t think you would connect with and it gives you the chance to change yourself and your community for the better.