By Ed Billings
Since our return, many people have asked what were my biggest take aways are from this journey.
That's a tougher question than you might imagine.
The other leaders have summarized the generosity received on this trip, as well as the pleasure of watching seven individual boys transform in to a team of seven young men. They have commented on the beauty of this country, as well as the stress points lurking beneath America's surface.
I'll let their words stand on their own.
So what are my take aways? Two come to mind.
To me, more than anything else we learned that people genuinely want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They long to do good.
We saw it in the eyes of those we met on the road. We read it in their blog and Facebook comments. And we even heard it from the much maligned media in their post interview comments, saying that these are the stories they want to tell, that need to be heard. It's just that bad news sells, like a cheap drug.
Secondly, in mainstream America we've lost touch with the value of failure. As parents of young adults we tend to want to inoculate our children from it. In my opinion, that's a huge mistake.
As our children age, we forget that failure is how we learn. We tend to only see the downside, and not the up.
Every day on this journey, we faced failure right in the eye. We had daily setbacks, but we worked hard to calculate risk, making decisions based on the resources and people we had at hand at that given moment.
We remained flexible, refusing to fall in love with the schedule. Some days we fell behind, others we pulled forward. In the end, we all made it home stronger and wiser then when we left.
Combined, those are some pretty good life lessons.