“Make some noise out there with your shovels," said the park ranger to the youth group. "The vibrations will scare away any copperheads." This was not a typical youth group outing. We were at Fontainebleau State Park on Lake Pontchartrain to clear undergrowth that is choking out the natural canopy. I had not received much information about our service project prior to our arrival in Louisiana. That was probably a blessing. Had they mentioned snakes I might have sent them a return note expressing my regret at not being able to join them! We were all out of our element on this project, but it was impressive to see how the youth group mustered up some can-do spirit and were soon cutting down trees and clearing brush. We were hot, sticky, and exhausted by the end of the day—but we had cleared a nice section of land. We had some fun doing it, too.
We reflected on the experience on the long ride back to New Orleans. None of us would have chosen this particular project for ourselves. Not because it wasn't a worthy endeavor, but because we wouldn't have guessed that we were up to the task. We left Fontainebleau realizing that we could accomplish a lot more than we thought we could—but only because we were willing to try. Isn't life that way sometimes? We see a need or an opportunity. Instead of getting involved, we wait for someone else more qualified to step up—or think of all the reasons we can't do it. But if we delay for the perfect opportunity to match our skills perfectly, we may be miss out on doing a lot of good in this world. THINK ABOUT THIS: Give something new a try.
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County—a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups.