34-Every Moment Counts

Good afternoon everybody! I hope that your short holiday week was splendid and you didn’t freak when the garbage man missed his normal pick-up time…I always have to remind myself to stay calm and remember that he will show up a day late this week. Have you ever thought how they get caught up? I mean seriously, do garbage men ever get a day off? They do, but then have to work an extra day anyway at the end of the week? What an important job that is often overlooked.

This week continues tales from Kentucky. Did I tell you there were 16 students on this trip! Crazy, right? I thought so, but surprisingly enough, there was a lot of one-on-one time that I was able to manufacture in the midst of surviving our daily challenges. These moments of connection are some of the highlights that I have on a Project Forty trip. It could be just a quick laugh, a comment, a look, a few seconds where the guards come down and you see the real fear in a students face. I would quickly like to share a couple of these moments before you move on with your weekend.

After the beat-down of rain at the end of day 1, we realized that we certainly missed something. The trail slowly dissipated, becoming more and more what is known as a “ghost trail.” Somebody had been here for sure, but due to the lack of markings on the trees it did not appear to be the forest service. They would be too serious to miss trail markers so I knew that we had gone astray. Once everybody seemed content with the tent city that we manufactured on the uneven and rocky soil, I put the call out there for an adventurer who dared to march beyond what is considered normal for a long day on the trail. I got one “I’ll go,” from a very non-stereo-typical outdoors-man and simply thought to myself, “Are you sure? Well, okay let’s get it.”

Down the mud slide we went to the last river crossing and upon a freshly fallen tree. “God, help me find our mistake and show me where the heck we are!” I thought, as my boots slid beneath me, arms flailing for balance. I turned to coach my sidekick for the hour down the muddy embankment. He tore it up and I reassessed my initial judgments. As we both approached the creek, the trail showed itself and I kicked myself for missing it. A hundred feet in and the white diamond and turtle paint appeared on the trees as we briskly cruised on by. We talked about the day, family and how he’s changed over this last year or so. I enjoyed the hike, my time with this young man, and the knowledge of our location in this great wilderness. Simple, but time is impact.

The next day I took two other reconnaissance missions to explore our options before dragging 19 others behind me into the unknown. Each mission I assembled a few guys who wanted the additional exercise. On the first mission we took enemy fire in the form of black flies and needed to virtually outrun them to stay sane. The second was much more peaceful but disappointing to discover the trail would be way too steep for our crew. One false step from the guy at the top and the whole team could end up in the valley, tumbling down as a giant ball of limbs and gear…nope.

Each time I went out, I took a new team, allowing me some time to connect and ask questions. There’s nothing too scary about talking to teenagers, you just have to do it! They want to connect and be a part of the vision that you cast out there. I walked off this trip with some really powerful moments with these students, and made connections that will allow me to follow-up in the days ahead. Remember, this is what Project Forty is all about—making a lifetime IMPACT. It starts small, but grows as you invest TIME, energy and being REAL throughout the journey. Thank you once again for taking the time to experience some of these incredible trips with me through this blog!




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