Last week I spent three days on an island with the 10th grade class of UrbanPromise Academy. Off the coast of Maryland is a 37 mile barrier island home to one of the only places in the world that has wild horses. I remember waking up at 1:30am to the sound of a pony right outside my tent, snorting and neighing. When I opened the fly, I could see its silhouette looking out serenely at the sand dunes with the light from the full moon in the background. It was an incredibly beautiful three days, filled with playing in the ocean waves, hiking the small sand dunes along the beach, kayaking through the harbor, and waking up to see the sunrise over the ocean each morning.
I would have to say that the best part of our trip was not the amazing sites, it wasn’t the joy of catching sand crabs along the beach or even the beautiful colors of the sunrises and sunsets, rather, what stands out to me most from our time on Assateague were the students from tenth grade. One student in particular, Brandon has stood out to me since I first met him on our trip to Colorado and Utah. Brandon is a young man of few words, yet when he uses his words, they are always those of encouragement and leadership. I overheard one of the new students this year say that he aspires to be like Brandon, because he chooses the words he uses wisely. His actions seem to speak even loude; he is always the first to jump in with the cooking crew, he is always prepared, listening to directions flawlessly and helping others who are new to the Trekker world. I never hear a complaint leave his mouth, and he seems to have a joy no matter what job he is assigned for the day…what a stellar example of humble leader.
Back in September, I spent a weekend in Siguatepeque, Honduras at a gorgeous camp named Cerro De Luz. Diony, one of the Camp Sub-Directors accompanied me to join with Agape Christian Church from Tegucigalpa. Our weekend was full of camp games, bus trips, high ropes courses, super hero costumes, water parks, workshops designed to build your faith, worship, and amazing new friends. My highlight from the weekend was getting to know Diony. Diony is someone who has grown up in rural Copán his whole life, and this weekend he was able to build relationships with the youth from Tegucigalpa (Honduras’ largest city and capitol). We spent one night in the capitol city before returning to Copan, and I remember looking out over the lights that dotted the landscape in front of us like stars on a rolling canvas, wondering what thoughts were going through Diony’s head. Later, when I asked him, he told me he was thinking about all the people that lived in the city, and wondering what their lives must be like. He knew that Tegucigalpa is home to some of the country’s greatest poverty and gang violence. How amazing that this young man has already put SO much thought into the lives of others above himself. He already serves as the assistant director in one of the after school children’s camps, as well as working with another children’s organization in town. He’s a husband, father, friend, and yet he still is thinking about the needs of others. I was repeatedly humbled at each and every interaction with Diony, and look forward to spending more time with him during future Trekker excursions.
Whether camping at Assateague Island with young people from the inner-city, or spending a night in the city with someone who’s lived his whole life in a small town, I am amazed at how God is shaping the next generation of leaders. It has been a privilege getting to know the Trekkers of Camden, and now the Trekkers of Honduras. Here’s to the future of our young people. Not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.