The Character Movement

One Student’s Commitment to Respect

At Youth Frontiers, it’s our mission to positively impact school communities through our retreats. One wonderful part 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 is a story of a student and his commitment to respect.

I remember Shawn.

Shawn was a student on a Respect Retreat in Wisconsin. I very clearly remember pulling up to this particular retreat because…

The retreat space was in a strip mall in an old abandoned store.

We unloaded all our stuff and when the kids arrived it became clear that the strip mall was not the only weird thing about the day.

The kids were just not quite ready for the day in the way that we wanted them to be.

The most extreme part of the day was this senior leader named, Shawn.

Shawn was the first one to raise his hand for everything. He dominated his small group. Anytime we did a large-group event,

Shawn had to win. He had to be first. Shawn had to be in front for everything.

By the end of the day when we did the campfire, we were bracing ourselves for what Shawn was going to say.

He picked up the microphone and said,

“The area of respect that I need to work on is respecting others more”.

“I realized today that I don’t see or hear anyone else but me”.

“I want to work on respecting others. And really seeing people and hearing them for who they are”.

It was like everyone sighed a breath of relief. This student leader was going to have a commitment to respect.

Shawn was finally going to listen. So that they could be heard.

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 wisdom.

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