YCorps Spotlight: Maddie Danielson
We are so grateful for our wonderful staff at Youth Frontiers (YF), from our full-time and part-time employees to our YCorps. The Youth Frontiers YCorps (Youth Corps) is a five-month internship program that gives emerging leaders the opportunity to facilitate, along with our full-time staff, life-changing retreats for schools all over the upper Midwest. As our current YCorps’ time with Youth Frontiers ends after the winter holidays, we wanted to celebrate their skills and stories on our blog as a six-part spotlight Q&A series. Our final YCorps in the spotlight is Maddie Danielson who has now transitioned into a full-time role with us a Retreat Facilitator!
How did you learn about Youth Frontiers’ YCorps?
I first heard about YF’s YCorps from one of Joe Cavanaugh’s good family friends. When I graduated from college, I was pretty burned out on fashion design and wanted a change of pace. I reached out to Katie Dorn, who is married to one of Joe’s childhood friends. She has helped a lot of people find their career paths, and I hoped she’d have some good ideas for me. Katie knew I loved working with kids and had quite a bit of experience speaking in front of people, so she told me YCorps might be a perfect fit.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I think my favorite part of the job is working with the YF staff. The quality of the people and the interactions in this job are unlike any I’ve experienced before. I always look forward to traveling with my coworkers and spending time with them outside of work!
What surprised you most about the retreats?
I don’t think you can fully prepare for how the kids react to the retreat. Obviously, every group is different, but it’s incredible to watch kids become more and more engaged throughout the day. Sometimes kids that you know don’t want to be there from the moment they walk in the door end up sharing something really powerful at the end of the retreat. It’s awesome to see that transformation.
What is your favorite mission moment from the retreats?
My talk for the Courage Retreat focuses on the fact that when I was in middle school I was very much unlike everyone else in my school. Sometimes that brought me down, but at the same time, I liked having unique interests and being a bit of a floater. On one retreat in Salk, Minn., one student got really emotional during my talk. Afterward, she came up to me and told me how much it impacted her to hear that it is actually okay to be different. She said she made it her act of courage to learn to love herself because she forgets that she is valuable when all she can see is how different she is from everyone else. She decided from then on to focus on how those unique quirks were beautiful and not cause for shame.
What are you learning at Youth Frontiers that you will take with you after your YCorps commitment ends?
The biggest thing I’m learning and am reminded of daily as I work at YF is the power of genuinely valuing others, regardless of their backgrounds. You can connect with anyone if you truly care about who they are as a person and recognize that everyone is dealing with their own struggles. Sometimes all people need is a little bit of love to help them see new possibilities – that’s what YF does. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this team and its mission!
Thank you, Maddie, for all that you have contributed to the YF team and for helping keep our mission in motion. We are so excited to have you join the team full-time as a Retreat Facilitator!