When I think back on the past several years, I can’t think of a single time when I’ve been bored. Since I was four I have taken music lessons and helped out in church. Now, going to a boarding academy has placed countless extracurricular opportunities at my finger tips. Outdoor activities, social activities, and fine arts (along with many other extracurricular activities), have taken a large part of my time for the past three years, and they all have left me with timeless memories and lasting life lessons.
When I first went away to school, I had an interest in outdoor activities, but little experience. Now, my friends and I hike the rugged Canadian wilderness once a week. Mountaineering, trail-running, backpacking, snow-camping (in an real snow cave that I made myself), and creek- and waterfall-climbing, have all taught me to reach higher, push harder, go further, and expect more of myself. I’ve also learned the values of teamwork and dependable friends. On one canoe trip in northern British Columbia, a large group of students was staying at the base camp, while a smaller group of students canoed up the lake. Just as we were about to push off shore, my canoe group learned that we needed to take another student. One of the canoes made room for her, and we set off. The catch was that this girl had few supplies and no food. My friends and I didn’t even blink. We simply shared what we had and made sure that everyone was cared for.
Another place where I have learned and practiced teamwork is in music. I love playing violin, and as part of our student-run Classical Concert (both in our student orchestra and as a participant in chamber groups and duets), I’ve needed to be diligent, responsible, and professional. Practicing with friends during our precious “free” time has taught me self-sacrifice and commitment. I have learned the most, however, in teaching. I have two young violin students that I teach once a week. Creativity, resourcefulness, patience, and flexibility are all tools that I am learning to use so I can better share the musical ability that God and my teachers have given me.
Giving what I have received is a practice that I’ve been able to use in a radio program that I take part in. Ask the Pastor is a national radio program on which three of my friends, two of my teachers (one of them is also a pastor), and I, discuss and use the Bible to answer questions like: Is there anything left you can trust? and Did God create the Devil? Sharing truths that I have learned since I was a child hasn’t only increased my faith, but it encourages and strengthens the faith of others. I find encouraging others even more rewarding when I do it anonymously. Having a secret sister that I give little notes to and make little gifts for is very rewarding. Another rewarding activity was making Spanish food for an International Supper that my friends and I held for the community. Not only did I make special Spanish dishes with my friends, but I got to share a piece of my culture with the community.
So, I do a lot. Big deal. Many teens do a lot. For me, each moment is an investment. Either an investment that will give me what it takes to reach my goals or one that will waste my time. So far, my time spent on extracurricular activities is profiting me with many life lessons, life lessons that are preparing me for my future.