My experience with the Youth Group kids and chaperones, but especially with my team, has been incredibly energizing. Each one of them not only arrived with an eagerness and excitement about what the week would bring, but also were able to maintain a willingness and positive attitude regardless of what was being asked of them. And some of these tasks seemed boring and somewhat unproductive.
The first night after a long, long day of travel, my team, although not complete, squeezed into a little booth at the Tacaria rstaurant and got to know each other a little bit better. I realized after dinner that we had an amazing group; they were gregarious, sensative, caring, silly, funny, and insightful.
When Talene arrived Monday night and we met as a group to go over our Tuesday schedule, our group was whole. Since our group was one of the groups that was split up on Monday, Tuesday would be our first chance to be all together. We also would be the only group going to this one site, the Catholic Workers House, which made the experience more ideal.
The day at the Catholic Workers House working with these kids, Jim, and the other volunteers was amazing. Interacting with the guests/clients by handing out some clothing and toiletry items and serving them a full multicourse lunch that a number of the kids prepared, with some guidance from a couple of the regular volunteers, felt so rewarding. There was a sense that we were able to make a difference in these people's lives even if it was just for a day. And we were ablet o really see the people who we were helping. Being able to sit on the porch and have conversations with a number of them made the whole experience that much richer.
I was a little nervous about the trip and intimidated by the sheer size of the group, but after five days of being together these feelings have long disappeared. I've been very fortunate to really get to know the kids in my group and so many others, I've had the opportunity to show the kids how to do some things as well. My favorite was being able to show some kids how to use a chalk line and circular saw at a RAMP site.
The greatest experience for me has been watching these kids grow, as individuals, and as a group. The bubble that they all live in, and that many of us adults live in, was broken down at least for a week. They will return to Belmont enriched, exhausted, and with memories that will last a lifetime as well as experiences that they will process over time as individuals and a group.
Thank you Dan and Bev for asking me to come!
Thank you to my amazing group: Liam, Cobby, Isaac, Sarah, Bekah, and Talene
-Will Smith, chaperone of Team 10/"Team Will Smith"/"The Salsa 7" [Friday 6:45am]