The Character Movement

A landscape photo of a French waterway from Julia's biking trip.

Très courage

Working with Youth Frontiers for the past three years, I’ve spoken to thousands of students on retreats about the values of kindness, respect and courage. The last of these is particularly dear to my heart, as I’ve taken many healthy risks in my life. I love feeling the thrill of courage, and I love to talk about it with young people. Anyone who’s ever been 13 years old — the approximate age of most of our Courage Retreat participants — will understand how appropriate the topic is at that developmental stage. You are beginning to shape your personal identity, to identify the ways in which you are unique  — but simultaneously, all you want to do is blend in with everybody else.

Earlier this year, in celebration of my 30th birthday, I wanted to challenge my own sense of courage. I wanted to gift myself with a new, thrilling — and at times scary — experience. I packed up my bicycle and hopped on a plane to Paris. For the next three weeks, I cycled, sweated, camped and ate my way through Western France.


I remember a student named John

At Youth Frontiers, it’s our mission to positively impact school communities through our retreats. One of the more wonderful parts of our job is that the same students we reach often impact us in turn. For our staff, these students and their stories are unforgettable. In this series, we remember them.


This year, on The Character Movement, we are trying something new. We’ll be delving into one of our retreat values each month, examining it on our blog and in our Character Challenges. This month’s theme is courage.


Unexpected, Courage — A poem

We have all felt, at least once, the feeling of things escaping our control.
Stress comes to our bodies; our biological alarms are triggered.
In some ways, anxiety and fear can become our closest and most loyal partners.
It seems that anything that we didn’t expect must be completely wrong.