More Than Willing

While being involved in UPH over the last few years I have led and supported many trips, between 1 and 8 days long, and I have continually seen the outstanding dedication and effort demonstrated by our youth leaders and staff, given that excellence is a value that we try to put into practice daily at UPH.

During a recent weekend UrbanTrekkers, alongside the leaders of a local children’s Home, Casita Copán, lead an overnight camping trip (Camping 101) with the incredibly special children of this organization. We began this activity last year but this year was even more special and unique for various reasons. We had 21 kids participating between the ages of 8 and 16, somewhat worrying at first glance for the number of kids and their ages (normally we manage groups of 10-15 young people between 14 and 18 years old in our trips). However, seeing them so smiley and wanting to be on the two-day trip so badly (each had to apply to be able to go), everything seemed like it was going to be ok.

Over the course of the 24 hours we shared together I had never seen kids so devoted and willing in each and every activity we ran whether in exciting team builders or ‘difficult’ tasks like set up tents or cook their own food (yes, the kids had to go cook two out of their three meals with the help of leaders). At different times I asked for extra help in tasks like starting a fire or cleaning the campsite and on more than one occasion I ended up having to say ‘Stop! We only need 3-4 volunteers!’ As we always had at least 10 kids raising their hand and running to help.

Something that impacted me and filled me with pride was knowing that many of the kids had already participated in UPH’s Vacation Camps in recent years and knew our discipline system and how to behave. This makes me reflect on the impact that we, as leaders, have on the attitudes of our kids and many times we focus on how they should behave without thinking about our behavior and whether we are truly being good role models for them. This challenges me to improve every day and to be more like the kids of Casita and UPH camps who are always raising their hands to help even before knowing what they will be asked to do.

This reminds me of Apostle Paul’s advice in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Sometimes the greatest lessons in life come from children or those considered ‘less important.’ And we know that Jesus invites us to be like children, like in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”


Luis Ortiz - UrbanTrekkers Director