How well do you know your eagles?

Well enough to pick them out by their feet?  

Now that just may be the most peculiar way I have ever started an email. Which is saying something! But it's the most fitting. After all, my favorite quote of the day was, "This is a weird school..." said very matter of factly as a hero nonchalantly cut up a grasshopper to pass among his tribe to eat. did we get there? you know from my last email, the LP has been going through some growing pains. So when a guide at Aim geniusly arranged to take the Sparks out hiking...I was super jealous...for about thirty seconds until I remembered that we can do whatever we want! So I scheduled this for today in hopes of providing the LPs an opportunity to further build their tribe. 

So we piled in my SUV this morning, turned up the tunes and were off (Thanks for coming along the journey Jake!)

When we arrived the mood shifted a bit. I guess the eagles know me well enough at this point to know this wasn't just going to be a casual stroll galavanting through the beautiful fall colors. 

We spoke for a moment about what the hallmark traits of a world class tribe are. I suggested that one of them was a willingness to bear each other's burdens. I then revealed the five burdens that would need to be 'carried' to the top of the hike 1) the burden of carrying a 50 lb dumbbell, 2) the burden of walking without socks, 3) the burden of being alone, 4) the burden of walking with a handful of rocks in your shoes, and 5) the burden of being blindfolded.

After a brief discussion, the burdens were doled out and the hike began. WIth a fair amount of grumbles and stumbles. 

Carrying the 50 lb dumbbell was the first burden that needed to be dealt with. A few eagles took turns heaving it in arm or carrying it in their backpacks...but that's a lot of weight. However, these hero's have improved immensely at thinking outside the box. It didn't take long before they realized/decided to split it up (it was an adjustable dumbbell that breaks down into 10 lb increments) and spread the weight out evenly amongst them. Dividing the pile of rocks between all of their shoes shortly followed. That left the 'no socks' burden, which some viewed as more of a nuisance than a major problem, the hiking alone burden, which a few tried but which one eagle didn't seem to particularly mind, and the blindfold.

For those of you who have done horsetail falls, you know it's a steep, rocky climb, with bridges, streams, and a bit of mud. Doing this blindfolded takes the challenge to a different level. As seen here

A few stops were made--to play games, review some beloved pictures of prior Aim excursions with a focus on moments that demonstrated the type of qualities exemplified in Level 5 tribes (such as this gem), and revisit what many eagles would say was the defining moment of the tribe last year. In addition to reminding them of the bonds that were built during that time of sacrifice, it also served as a reminder that there are times when others may not be able to help them with their burdens. As was to be the case for the rest of the hike. For the last half a mile, everyone had to walk barefoot. Ironically, someone had passed us on the trail earlier in the day walking barefoot. He said it was 'good for the spine' when I asked him why. My spine begs to differ. As do the soles of my feet. 

The very final stretch of the hike began with a fairly steep decline. When everyone arrived, it was revealed that nobody could go down the descent without a blindfold. However, the hero's were running out of time. I had established the time we needed to turn around to make it back to the school by 3:30. But they had come this far. Turning back now didn't feel like an option. It was then I noticed a grasshopper in the trail. Well you know what happened next. Dissected like a diced tomato. Down the hatch. Fifteen extra minutes earned. 

A short distance later we arrived at our destination. In keeping with tradition, a 'top of mountain selfie' was taken. Scraped feet were washed off in the cool water (though that wasn't the only thing that got wet). Then shoes were replaced with much gratitude and the return journey began. 

I've loved hearing from you parents this evening what your heroes thought of the experience.  It makes me happy to hear it was meaningful for them. It is not lost on me how much they are willing to trust me, try new things, and work so hard to cultivate the very best version of themselves. I can't believe how brave they are. I don't think I had half the courage they do at their age. I sure do love them :) Watching them change the world is going to be fun. 

Building a Level 5 tribe is so gosh darn difficult, so it comes as no surprise that there is more work that needs to be done. But I'd call today a good start :)


Lance Stewart

Ok I had to send a quick add-on to this post after our launch this morning. Your heroes are that amazing. While each eagle said something unique, their comments all tied into a united theme around the following idea--in essence, the tribe said this morning, "We are going to relish every single time we step on cut and bruised and blistered feet today, because we know that everyone else in our tribe is stepping on wounded feet too. The pain will remind us of what we went through together and what we are capable of."  I don't care who you are...that's pretty cool :)

Hi, I'm Lance Stewart.

I'm the founder and Head of School at Aim Academy.

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