This past weekend has been my highlight of Advanced Excel. Why? Because we got to be outside the whole time. How? We went camping. We slept in tents, sat around the camp fire, and stretched and pulled more muscles than we thought we had. We were pushed to our limit d beyond. All the while learning about leadership, teamwork and TRUST.
Thursday afternoon we arrived anticipating all that we would be doing this weekend. We played several competitive games of volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee, with trust building games between those sports. Would you trust someone to lead you through “a” frames and around cones while blindfolded? I didn't have a choice. Teamed up with the shortest girl on our team I was praying I wouldn't hit my head on the “a” frame. She did a marvelous job of looking out for me and my head.
Dinner was a lovely four course meal prepared for us by Mrs. Far. It was quite unexpected to be sitting down to a table of china and crystal and we all felt somewhat out of our comfort zone because we were dressed for camping and eating a dinner that you'd eat at a 5 star hotel. After dinner Mrs. Far talked to us about mentoring others and being a wise leader. The thing that stuck with me the most was a mentor will lift others higher than themselves. She gave a picture of children standing on there parents shoulders, being lifted to higher callings, bigger dreams and greater ambitions. ( Thanks mom and dad for lifting me higher, for having confidence in me.) She gave us all food for thought.
Back at the campsite we all got ready to spend our first night sleeping side by side in the biggest camping tent I've ever seen. All eight AE students slept in this tent and our fabulous leadership team (Grace, Chrissy, and Hannah) slept in a separate tent. We layered up and crawled into the sleeping-bags, longing for sleep, needing the rest and eager to see what the next day held for us. Even with the crowded tent the cold snuck in. We woke up Friday morning freezing somewhat sore, and tired, but looking forward to the days events.
We did the climbing wall first. There is one big wall 70 ft high with three separate challenging walls on it. We were all impressed and a little more cautious of Chrissy who was the only one of us to do all three walls. I tired to do all three and managed to make it a little more than half way each time. I was disappointed about this. In looking at the wall it didn't look that hard. I had given myself a false confidence that this wouldn't be to hard. God wanted to use this wall to teach me something about myself. Often God will take our fleshly confidence and grind it to dust until we are willing to put all our confidence in Him and in His strength. God showed me that I can't be good at everything. I thought I was strong enough, tough enough and able enough to conquer that wall. God chose that moment to show me the real truth about myself, and it was rather disappointing.
After lunch we started our Excel Challenge...this challenge pulled us, pushed us, bruised us and came near to defeating us. We pulled, pushed, received the bruises and conquered the challenge. In 4 and half hours we learned how to work as a team, be leaders and willing followers. We learned to trust those that guided us while being lead backwards or blindfolded. We encouraged those who got weary and were encouraged when we got weary. We saw God bond us together in only the way that sweat, dirt and pain can bond people together. I find it amazing that God can use so many different ways to teach us unity. In the 7 challenges we had that afternoon unity was a part of every one of them. Dinner was craved for and sleep was sweet that night. None of us had any trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or staying warm.
Saturday morning dawned and with it 7 surprised girls, the leaders had chosen this time to have a little fun and they collapsed their tent on them...why only 7? Because one of us got up and out of the tent before it happened. That person had a wonderful time taking pictures of the rest of the team in the flattened tent. The girls managed to climb out and set it back up without to much difficulty. It will be a good memory to think back on.
This was the confidence course day, which included more sweat, more pain, and more trust. We also learned the importance of communicating with one another and not being afraid to speak up with solutions to problems.
What could be so hard staying balanced on a log? What if all 11 of you get on and then have to get into alphabetical order without touching the ground? What if then 3 of you fell off at the same time??? U-oh is right. 2 other girls and myself fell off the log in trying to get to our proper places. 1 of us got to hole a basketball to hold and I got blindfolded. All the sudden you have no choice but to rely on the others around you to help you keep your balance and get you to your proper spot. Trusting in others goes up a couple levels when you can't see anything.
What do you do when you have to crawl through 5 rubber tires without touching the ground? You just start doing it until all 11 of you are across. You talk to one another and learn to swing tires at the right time. You work as a team not an individual. I must say, I'll never look at tire swings the same every again.
It was a stretching morning, learning to be patience, using your brain to think up solutions, and being willing to stick your head out with a new idea. Sometimes the ideas worked great, other times they failed. Failing is ok if it doesn't defeat you. We all fail in life its impossible not to. Its how you deal with the failure. Will you jump up and try again and keep trying or will you just lay there be defeated and be a burden to others?
AE 18, learned that unity, communication, and trust are all very important in our walk of life. We can not become dependent on ourselves. God made us human. We are to depend on others not only times of trial, weariness, and pain but also enjoy the times of success, strength, and joy. God not only made us dependent on each other but also on Him. I know that if it wasn't for my Heavenly Father this last weekend would have been a total disaster, but as I put my faith, trust and confidence in my wonderful, merciful Savior, He allowed me to have one of the most unifying, painful yet enjoyable, and trust building weekends of my life! Soli Deo Gloria