Last Saturday, a small group of Educate! workers donned their hiking boots and set out to pre-hike the 2nd Annual Hike for Uganda (planned for Aug. 28th) path up Green Mountain. We were led by Dante, a spry and sprightly 10 year-old with untied shoes and a huge grin, and his four-legged friend, Charlie. The boy and the dog would trek on ahead and then redouble back to check on the slower-moving, older hikers. While heading up the path, the rest of us talked logistics about where to put water stations, deciding who will stand at mid-points on the day of the hike and how best to make sure all those who participate have a great experience.
Though Saturday’s focus was primarily to decide these necessary plans, it was more so a chance for the hikers to connect on a more personal level, to really get to know one another and why each of us has gotten involved in this worthy organization. There was Maya, the director of communications, whose passion for media and incredible organizational skills have helped Educate! achieve the prominence on the social scene that it now has. Her father Jim is the token lawyer, though his smiling exuberance is far from that of a typical barrister. Ryan, one of the new fundraisers, told us about his first year of marriage. Though Roger was in charge of mapping the trail, it was far more interesting to hear about his 103 climbs up Longs Peak’s east face, a 900-foot vertical wall known by climbers world-wide as The Diamond. MaryAnn, married to Roger, is a retired physical education teacher who now plays tennis multiple times a week and teaches English to native Spanish-speakers. Dante is a close family friend of Maya and Jim; he joined the hike as the encourager. And then there was me, Courtney, the new public relations coordinator; I was in my element asking questions (and questions and more questions).
The day had specific purpose, but also great opportunity. We learned who we are as individuals and who we can be if we all work together. And that is such a great example of what Educate! is. Through 15 mentors, we have empowered 830 Ugandan students. They will go out into their communities and make huge differences as they put social entrepreneurship skills into practice. Already 48 community initiatives and 12 businesses have been started.
Hiking to the top of Green Mountain was a mountain-top experience. So is making the world a better place.