Today was our ninth and final day of the StandWatch expedition. We started off the day VERY early, at 3:30 in the morning. After only three hours of sleep, I got ready in a dazed state and stumbled into the Northup car. We were about an hour away from the Denver airport. As stated before, I’m not very talented when it comes to sleeping in the car; however, I was able to spend most of the trip in and out of decent sleep.
Most of the day consisted of the same things. Driving in cars, boarding planes, resisting the urge to clap when we landed. Currently, I am sitting in the car on my way home to Fairmont. Our whole group made it back safely to Teays Valley, but my sister Emily and I still have about two and a half hours to our home.
This week has been an experience I will never forget. I have seen things that I never thought I’d have the chance to see in ways that I never thought I’d be able to. I have found myself capable of things I did not know I was capable of, and have found things that I did not know challenged me until now. Not only have I been pushed physically, but I have been pushed mentally.
My biggest takeaway of the week is that companionship is extremely important. It is an absolute necessity in the adult world that I am capable of forming connections with people my own age in a respectful and formal manner. Without being able to talk to people whom I have never before encountered prior to this trip, my time would have been a lot less enjoyable. I used to consider myself a timid person, but I truly believe this trip has showed me the value of stepping out of my comfort zone in introducing myself to others and forming connections.
Not only have I learned the value of companionship, but I have learned the mechanisms of maintaining a respectful and functional dynamic within such a large group. This week, we were given daily assignments. This ranged from writing blog posts to simply being at breakfast on time. In order for everything to run smoothly and without conflict, it was necessary that I, along with everyone else, kept up with their own selves and their own work. I believe that without everybody doing their own part, unfairness and a sort of “blame game” could become an issue.
These are just two lessons among the many I have learned this week. Most of these, even the ones I stated, are related to leadership in some way. When launching a nonprofit, leadership is an absolutely necessary quality. I say this to make the point that not only did I learn life lessons throughout this week, but I have learned lessons related to my “Today for Tomorrow” nonprofit project. After this experience, I feel better equipped to lead something such as this. Overall, it has been a lesson in leadership, respectfulness, patience, endurance, and even business.
I am incredibly grateful to have experienced the beauty and enjoyment this expedition provided. I have seen some places that I will most likely never see again. The stunning scenery of every location is something that will always stick with me. Not only am I grateful for the experience, but I am grateful to StandWatch for creating such an educational and enjoyable activity for curious and adventurous students like myself.