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Cisco : From Summer Camp to the Holidays – A Give Back Adventure

12/01/2020 | 08:07am

Yes, summer ended months ago - but, journey back with me for just a (perhaps,warmer) memory. For many, summer camp is atime for outdoor adventureand memories made incanoes and kayaks, swimmingwith friends, learning how to make knotsyou'd never think to use,or some kind of woodsycraft. It was aplace where summer seemed to last forever.

Many get to experience summer camp growing up, a part of treasured childhood memories- but not for me. I have my own summer camp memories as an adultcamp leaderwho, for the past decade or so, hasbeen responsible for a cabin of 15 teenage girls. My firstexperience as a camp lead was as a 30-year oldwide-eyed and mystified adventurer, who wasclearly outof my element.I took aweek off work, flew myself to the nearest airportand got to camp.

After the week-long campwas over, I took a 16-hour bus ride back home with the group of teenagers. I live to tell the tale of that first-time camp experience.

No one can really prepare you for all the aches and painsof camp-from zip-liningand obstacle coursestothesleepless nights(thanks,uncomfortable bunks) and a slightly different kind of ache: uncovered fears you didn't think you had. Yet, one thing always made up for those aches and pains - seeing the summer through the eyes of a young person, eager to tackle those fears while seeking new adventures.

This isthevery magic that kept me coming back year after year to leada cabinfilled with our next generation. I lookedforward to this week all year - excitedly anticipating its arrival in the same wayone does for their favorite holiday or a 'real' vacation.

Then came2020.Summer camps were all but canceled.Not only was I sad that I would miss that magical week, but I now had alot ofVolunteer Time Off from Cisco with nowhere to go. Cisco's Volunteer Time Off provides employees 40 hours each year (which was bumped up to 80 hours in 2020!) to give back in ways they are most passionate about and is separate from our normal PTO hours.

My restless soul, especially given the times,needed that same magic.I neededto experience that sense of hope and joy for the future.So, I took matters into my own hands - and this year, my 'summer camp' lookeda little different.

Instead of one contiguous weekthis summer, I volunteered over a series ofsingle days - some random Tuesdaysor Thursdays -over the course of a fewmonths.My'camp crew' for 2020comprised of my husband,siblings, nephews and nieces orfriends. Wewould gather around ourdining room table to prepare individual meals, and then deliveredthesemeals to our local communityto areas where they were needed the most.

On these days theeyesof those who were receiving these mealsshowed the range of our human condition: sadness, anger, disbelief…but always,a glimmer of hope, and gratitude.

This year, I was able to extend 'camp'over the summermonthsandintofall - and, now it has become monthly give back opportunities where myfamily hasplannedinto the winter holiday season.I love that even for a just a day, here and there,Cisco supports me taking the timetowrap bread orportion out sour cream. It has nothing to do with my role as a Technical Solutions Architect for our Collaboration team,but Cisco sees its importance and the value of giving back. I can devote my thoughts and energies to something that's not on a video screen and can see the world through someone else's eyes.

These randomdays of giving back hasthat same magic asmy week-longannualsummer camp adventure. For a moment, I step into thetangible, physicalworld- and notjust avirtualgive back opportunity, but to truly connect with others. Thesedaysleaveme energized, with thatimmense sense of joy and hope, for the future.

Suddenly, I'm right back at summer camp.No matter the month.

How are you giving back this #GivingTuesday and holiday season?

Ready to join a company that gives back? Apply now.

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Cisco Systems Inc. published this content on 01 December 2020 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 01 December 2020 13:06:03 UTC

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