A Beautiful Example

The final morning of our trip, we hiked down to a lake to compete in a raft making and racing challenge.

Although the event was not as well run as some of the others, it ended up being one of my favorite moments, and an excellent culminating example of the goal that I was praying for our group from the beginning of the trip.

team b

At this point, each group of 24 split into two smaller groups to make the rafting more manageable.  The eight new teams (from the original four) were given rope, inner-tubes, long pieces of bamboo, and paddles.  The goal was to build a raft that would work well, row to the middle of the lake as a team, grab a flag, and be the first team to make it back.


The group of 12 that I was supervising simply did an excellent job of working together, and did not need a single word of advise or reminding from me.  They encouraged one another, listened well, and overall saw it as a team project instead of their individual tasks.  They made sure that each person had a special job and felt needed.

My favorite part, though, was after they had completed their raft.


All of them ran to me right away, asking if “they could go help the rest of their team!?”

lonely boat

It made me so happy to see how they were still bonded to the rest of our original team, wanting to help them, despite the fact that they were currently pitted against each other.  24 kids was a rather large number to be working around one raft, but they made it happen and had a great time while they were at it.

building together

I left them for a bit, and when I came back they shared their strategy with me:  one half of our team (Team B, represent!) had determined that their goal was to block the other teams so that our other half could win.  They were so united!

finished boat

(I can say with no doubt that I would not be willing to give up my chance at winning so that another team could take first :P)

boat race


In the end, our two teams took first and a close third.  Most importantly, though, they enjoyed the time together and painted a beautiful picture of what teamwork looks like when done well.  Moreover, this wasn’t teamwork with the people that they knew well or usually spent time with.  They had been able to pick two or three other people that they wanted to be in a group with, but other than that they were placed randomly with students that they did not know as well.  By the end of the trip (and to this day :)) we were, (and are!) Group B, a group of 24 students working together – not separate cliques of students working alongside each other.

first and third!

I never stop learning from these kids!

Okay, the I-have-the-world’s-best-students fest is over. Until next time 😉

large group

Up next: Cambodia!


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