I need to add another piece to the trek story. That is the amazing Ma and Pa of each family.
I had three kids on that trek – so I got the call and was asked to volunteer to be a Pa thus making my wife the Ma of our pretend trek family. We would have had 8 – 10 kids from the ages of 14 – 18 assigned to us as a “family” and we would have been given a handcart to carry all of our stuff in.
I’ve done this before, been a leader on a trek. I ended up with heat stroke in the medical chase vehicle. It was not a pleasant experience. So I declined. But there were 52 people that willingly took up that challenge and accepted the invitation to be involved in a pretty major way.
The mas and pas were really there to build a team, to make sure everybody stayed together, and to be the eyes of the medical team watching the kids to ensure they stayed safe. But they didn’t just show up the day of the trek and start loading a handcart.
They started well in advance by having parties in their homes, going on hikes, going boating, and other fun activities with their “families”. That way the kids would get to know each other before they got to the trek. Every “family” that I saw on trek were acting like this was a reunion – they were getting together with friends to go on a grand adventure – that is because of the efforts of the mas and pas in the month preceding the event.
The vibe of the initial meeting in the parking lot, and throughout the rest of the trek was beyond friendly. These kids learned to love each other through the hard things they overcame together.
I interviewed a young man who was emotional as he talked about his trek family. One of the girls I interviewed told me that when you do really hard things together, you bond with love and unity. How many teenagers have you heard talk like that?
It’s still just amazing to me that these kids willingly (well, for the most part) went out there and pulled these handcarts. But it’s more amazing to me that they learned these kinds of concepts at such a young age.
And my hat is off to these mas and pas that took time off of work, sacrificed their personal time in advance to help build teams, and walked through the rain, and mud, and heat to help these kids. Kids that before trek were strangers to them. Now these kids feel like they have a second family. Think of how great that is, the chance to go through difficult things, and learn to love people we don’t know, is a rare thing in our world today.
Because the video I’m making focuses on the kids, I didn’t get many shots of the mas and pas – here’s the few I did get. Remember – there were 26 “families” on this trek – 52 people made room in their lives to help these kids create an experience they won’t soon forget.
I’m not sure who this Ma is – but I put it in here to show you the “before”. This photo was taken in the parking lot as they boarded the busses. Notice pretty hair that is also clean?
Ma and Pa Blake after three days and 22 miles.
Ma and Pa Morris after three days and 22 miles. (photos taken at the last meal of the trek)
Blakes, Morris’, and a couple of other families stowed silly string (is that what you call that string that shoots out of a can?) in their handcarts for the trek. At this lunch everyone had walked about 22 miles, and the were hot, tired and wet from the rain that had just fallen on us. In general they were looking forward to going home.
Suddenly about 30 people had silly string and were letting it fly. (you can see it on the faces of Ma and Pa Blake in particular). The string fight lasted about 5 minutes – too fast for me to get my camera out of a bag and get photos of it, but the effect on the handcart company was incredible.
The energy of the whole trek improved. All three hundred people felt better, more energized, remembered they were having fun, people were laughing and talking again.
Smuggling string and knowing when to use it is an art these people mastered somewhere along the way, and it made a big difference to a lot of people that day.