Everyone Should Be In The Raggers Program

Everyone Should Be In The Raggers Program

Your rag only has the meaning YOU give it.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Santa Barbara Family YMCA

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The Perfect Guy Is Out There, Trust Me

Little do you know there is one
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We’re all guilty of it. It’s something in the back of our minds a lot of the time.

The guy who will hold us when we’re upset and accompany us when we’re lonely. The guy who will love us to the ends of the Earth, with all they have within them. The guy who will take you on extravagant adventures and fulfill all of your dreams. The guy who will carry your burdens with you to lighten the load. The guy who will fill your heart with unimaginable joy.

The guy who’s accountable, responsible, and kind. The guy with the smarts and wisdom to help you raise your kids just how you’d want. The guy with an indescribable compassion for life and people. The guy who knows and understands you more than you know you know and understand yourself. A guy with a sense of humor, but still a guy with empathy. A guy who would die for you. The perfect guy.

Oddly enough, that exists. I even know a guy.

This guy is literally perfect in every way. He is elegance and grace and wisdom. This guy is the very definition of absolutely selfless love. He puts others first always and always has your best interests at heart. He won’t take you anywhere that isn’t good for you and that won’t lead to better things. He’ll take you out on adventures you couldn’t imagine-- it’s like getting on a rollercoaster ride that never ends. Each worry in your head is put to rest and reassured every time. Each burden is no longer your to bare. He wants and loves you more than any other person could ever.

He would drop anything in a moment for you if you were having a rough day. He’s also an excellent listener-- I swear I’ve talked for hours on end before about the dumbest things. He literally wants nothing in return from you other than a relationship. Insane right? He’s kind of overlooked sometimes though, which makes me sad. He’s truly a pleasure to me and helpful to my heart, so I wish everyone knew.

His name? I thought you’d never ask.

He is God, my love. He wants you more than anything else on the planet. He led a flawless life full of nothing but love for even those who betrayed Him or didn’t believe in Him. He will listen to your cries for help and your rants for HOURS without hesitation, without growing bored. He’ll take you places you can’t imagine experiencing things you couldn’t fathom. He will reassure you that you are beautiful, you are kind, you are smart, your feelings are valid, you are worth it, and you are endlessly and unconditionally loved.

If you go to Him, He will not only help you carry your burdens, but He will take them from you entirely. He would undoubtedly die for you, and He DID die for you. He has your best interests at heart and will never lead your feet into a place that won’t help you.

From experience, I know this. I let my fears control me, even when He told me not to be afraid (365 times, one for each day, I might add). For example, I once was afraid of drowning, especially in regards to the ocean. It was a small fear, not overpowering, but there. On a vacation, it seemed that people were losing their lives to riptides –– one the day before my event. The next day, I got caught in a riptide, imagining only the worst outcome as the waves crashed over me and I started growing tired of fighting.

Yet, just as I felt like that was it, the current brought me back around and into shore, virtually unscathed. He showed me I am always safe with Him, and I should never be afraid. God has put me through situations that I thought I was incapable of even going through the beginning stages of. He helps me grow, learn, and love. The love is incomparable to any Earthly thing.

All in all, this is something you’ll have to experience for yourself. He only wants a relationship with you. He only wants YOU. Run to Him. Embrace Him. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Cover Image Credit: Julie Myers

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10 Things All Catholic College Students Think On Ash Wednesday

Jesus Time!
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In the Catholic Church, and some other Christian denominations, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season in which we must reflect and repent for our sins. It is reflective of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, fasting and praying, before being crucified. In this season, Christians are in a period of deep prayer and reflection on their own lives.

1. I’m so hungry.

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics fast, meaning we don’t eat anything, so that we can remember what Jesus went through in the desert and be in communion with people in the world who are hungry and living in poverty.

2. What am I going to give up this year?

One of the most stressful things about the Lenten season is figuring out what to give up for Lent. Catholics usually take something of excess, like a favorite food or a luxury of some sort, and give it up for the 40 days of Lent. This is used to remind us of how we must always be thankful for what we have, because not everyone has what we do.

3. If I give up going to church, does that count?

No, no it doesn’t.

4. Please don’t let me be first in line.

At mass, Catholics grind up the ashes from last year’s Psalm Sunday and use them to write the sign of the cross on our foreheads. This symbolizes our devotion to Christ, our understanding that He died for our sins, and our pride in being His followers. But, you never want to be first in line to receive your ashes, because they will look the darkest of anyone else’s and you’ll look even more ridiculous than the rest of us.

5. Is everyone staring at me?

Considering during Ash Wednesday, most us Catholics have a huge black smudge on our foreheads, I think it is safe to say that, yes, everyone is staring at you.

6. Ey, there’s another one!

This is the one day where you can visibly see on your campus who is Catholic and who is not. It’s kind of fun to walk around and make eye contact with people who have ashes, realizing that you don’t know each other, but you still have a commonality.

7. Should I wear a hat?

Unless it is extremely cold outside, wearing a hat to cover up your ashes kind of defeats the purpose of getting them to begin with.

8. Will God hate me if I sneak a fry?

No, he won’t. Especially if you have a medical condition like I do, fasting all day isn’t always an option. Just do the best you can and God will appreciate it.

9. Do I have ash fallout?

As a girl who wears makeup, I often worry if my ashes caught on to my foundation and have littered my face in black specks. It’s kind of vain, but I always have the check in the mirror after mass to see what everything looks like before I can go outside.

10. Does any of this REALLY matter?

It matters if you make it matter. Use this time of reflection to get to know God better and be a good person. If you can’t think of something to give up for the season, add something new and positive into your life instead. Just do whatever can do for God and all will be well.

Cover Image Credit: United Methodist Church

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