I've had the privilege to grow up in a small town in Northeast Oklahoma. Though my hometown of Claremore is small, it sure is mighty. It has its own hustle and bustle, but still has the intimacy of a close-knit environment. I'm so thankful that I call Claremore home, and that I've become the young woman I am through the life experiences and influence of this community.
I love this place and I'll always call it home; here are four reasons why:
1. Everybody knows everybody, in some way or through someone.
Whether they're a friend of a friend, a relative to your neighbor, or a coworker to a family member, there are always connections and it isn't uncommon to see someone you know at the supermarket.
Everywhere. It's no secret that a huge part of the town can be found in churches on Sunday Mornings. No matter how crazy the week, no matter what trials or hard times you may go through. The beauty of it all is that you can always be lifted up by friends or family, and be prayed over.
3. Kids are valued.
Not only do elementary teachers work endlessly for their students, but children are given so many opportunities to get involved, regardless of their family's income. Several things are offered to them like sports, music, Sunday school/Wednesday night bible studies, and lots of school-related activities.
4. High school students are given opportunities to be involved in the community and be cultivated by peers or adults.
They often provide a reason for the entire town to come together through just three Words: High-School-Football. The homecoming festivities, the tailgates, and the perfect weather bring everyone together. Another thing, it's not just some kid making the touchdown or the tackle; it's your neighbor, your cousin, your brother, or another member of your community. Someone you know and someone you have a connection to. Aside from the football aspect, Claremore is adamant about publicizing the accomplishments of teens in the community; whether in sports, leadership, youth group events, etc.
Some people dream of the day they leave their small town. The intimacy and the close bonds I've been able to make are things that are truly irreplaceable. In my case, I'm unsure of where I may end up. But what I am sure of is that I will never be able to repay Claremore or its residents for the lessons I've learned or the memories I've made.