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.