This I Believe

Lauren - Finksburg, Maryland
Entered on November 28, 2007

I believe in kids with hammers. And Pneumatic nail guns and staplers. American society talks too frequently today about their kids and their lack of initiative or desire to help anyone but themselves to the next pop tart and excuse to do nothing in front of the television. Why is it then, that every year more than double the students at Notre Dame Prep and Calvert Hall high schools sign up to sign away their much-awaited first official week of summer vacation to travel about six hours, (or nine if you let Mr. Grustzwitz drive), to a remote neighborhood in Virginia to work four days outside in all weather conditions on a home for people you have never even met. For free. These same kids are also willing to subject themselves to sleeping on the floor in a random church, eating self-prepared meals, which alone is kind of daunting when the individual participants are considered, and race for showers at the local YMCA. Except that our youth, in their infinite ability to turn a compromising situation into an agreeable one with their humor and energy; and their ability to work with people that are different from them quite successfully don’t look at the bare bones of a permission slip timetable and see uncomfortable situations or boring activities. They see possibilities. Possibilities for long stories and stomach-twisting laughter, for new memories and a chance to see other sides of their classmates and teachers. For a chance to change the direction of a few peoples lives, and the path of their own entirely. Kids have the ability to look beyond the mundane specifics and see color behind them. They are imaginative, especially when finding new ways to staple upside down and sideways with a friend’s help; and intuitive, in knowing when to just relax and laugh with the kind people who make them dinner, or the mischievous children that will soon sleep within the walls they built. We look at service, among other things, as more than what it seems on the surface. We see it as an opportunity to test our boundaries, meet new people, and have a really good time. Even when we aren’t experts at something, or lacking any sort of experience at all for that matter, we’re willing to try it, and admit when we might need a little help. Like with not falling off the first half of the roof you just laid, while putting up the rest of it. Even when incredibly worn out by the end of a long day at the site, we still somehow muster the energy to take off our shoes and play soccer in a field together, yelling and laughing into the night. To the casual observer, my three-hundred plus photos of the Virginia trip are of random things, in a rather drab place. To me they are the trappings of a ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬rather idyllic locale, populated with the best sort of people spend time with. This is because I know what’s really behind their smiles, and the rest of the sentence they were about to finish; how that window is just as worthy as any national monument of being photographed because of the mammoth achievement it symbolizes. I guess I should say I really believe in possibilities, and how naturally kids are suited for making the most of them. This is why I believe in kids with any sort of Home Depot merchandise, because they really know how to use it.