Editor's note: Following are the thoughts of SOS Outreach participants from Eagle County who attended the Olympic Games in London this past summer.
A life-changing trip
I don't think I've ever been optimistic. I didn't see the cup half full with water, nor did I see it half empty. I just kind of saw a cup with water.
SOS Outreach and Global
Sports Development gave me the opportunity to go to London, live in the culture, see the Olympics and most importantly, spread the love.
The eight days I spent in London were life-changing.
We started off our first day with courage. We got on a plane and flew thousands of miles from home without our parents.
The eight-hour plane ride gave us the chance to bond with the other students from Summit and Durango. They became our family and close friends.
Our second day, we explored the town and saw the beautiful architecture and ate our first British meal. We had the chance to meet up with a group of students from London, which made this experience even better, and the friendships we built will be forever remembered.
During this trip, we not only got to see the culture and make new friends, we got to meet Bob Beamon, who set the record for long jump in the 1968 summer Olympics in Mexico City.
He shared his life story and his journey to success and encouraged us to create our own life story.
He wanted us to learn that as long as you set yourself up for success and don't let your past get in the way, just like a phoenix rises from ash, it turns it to a great bird.
This trip to London was a life-changing experience. We saw a new part of the world, met new friends and traveled. It's an experience that has humbled me.
When people ask how London was, I talk about the courage we used to get on the plane, about the wisdom Bob Beamon shared with us and the discipline we had to stay together as a group.
But mostly importantly, I tell people how the SOS students got the chance to spread the love across the ocean in London.
Junior Sherpa, Eagle Valley High School, SOS Outreach participant
for six years
Trip lit a light
I met Bob Beamon, an Olympian who held the world record for long jump for 44 years.
He was very inspirational, telling us, "There's a story behind every story." He was a juvenile delinquent who one day changed his life when he began playing sports like basketball and discovered he was really good at track and field.
From there, he began working hard to be the best that he could be.
This taught me that no matter who you are or what you have done, you have to just get back on track and learn from those mistakes.
This was very helpful because I make a lot of mistakes and make up excuses sometimes, but I don't learn from them. I learned now that I have to pay attention to what I do wrong so that I can succeed in life.
After his speech, we got to hold the Olympic torch. I never could see myself holding the official Olympic torch, maybe in my dreams, but not in real life.
While I was holding it, I thought to myself, this is heavier than I thought it would be.
Getting the chance to go to the Olympic Games was just a great once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I got to make new friends that I will never forget, visit an abundance of famous sites and go to some Olympic events!
All of this was thanks to SOS Outreach. Without them, I would not be where I am today. They have helped me grow as a person and become a better leader.
I have been with SOS Outreach for eight years now, and I treasure the years that I have had with them. They have given me a chance to see life differently, and I am thankful for that.
They gave me five core values that I live by: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion. They are like my second family, and thanks to them I feel like a new person, a much more courageous, wise, compassionate, disciplined person with integrity.
This has just been an amazing trip. I never thought I would have this opportunity, and it makes me so happy that I got to be part of this.
Junior Sherpa, Battle Mountain High School, SOS Outreach participant for eight years
What I learned
Going on this trip was a life-changing experience in many ways. I had the chance to explore a beautiful city, take part in an intense worldwide event and do so while making some amazing friends.
The Globe Theater in London is almost an exact replica of the same theater in which many of Shakespeare's plays were performed during his time. There are many great things about this place, including the fact that everything - from the columns on stage to the dimensions of the building - were just as they had been in the theater Shakespeare saw, according to what records tell us.
But the thing that amazed me the most was the sense of enthusiasm that radiated from the museum tour guides. You could sense just how inspirational Shakespeare was to them.
This spoke to me because it showed me if you do something well, people will like it while it's fresh. But if you do something incredibly well, people will draw inspiration from it long after you are gone.
A little later during the trip, two companions and I, along with our SOS chaperone Mikayla, were watching badminton. That day began with doubles matches and moved on to singles matches. The singles matches had a feeling of intensity that I feel only a one-on-one match can evoke.
During these matches, I had the opportunity to see what sportsmanship really was. Before this, I had always thought that sportsmanship was the respect that you showed to your opponent, whether you had won or lost. But now, I see that it is much more than that.
Sportsmanship isn't just a respect for the people that you play against, but a respect for the sport you play. This means that even when you lose a game that you have been training for your whole life, you feel a sense of happiness amidst the anger and disappointment because you know that your sport has been pushed that much further, along with the respect for the person who was responsible for that push.
Perhaps the most memorable part of this trip was one that was happening all throughout the trip, from beginning to end. Getting to be part of the Olympic movement was exhilarating, and exploring one of the most amazing cities in the world was fantastic, but none of this compares to the joy while I forged new friendships with fellow SOS members and the Londoners who were on the trip.
This experience reminded me of how short life is and how easy it is to get stuck in your own wavelength without realizing there is a whole world out there, filled with people whose unique perspectives can add to your life and change it for the better. It showed me how important it is to live a life in which you have the chance to meet people who make you a better person, and do things that make others, and the world, better than they were before you met.
It's difficult to capture the full beauty of this trip, from the walks through London to the excitement of watching world-class athletes represent their countries on the court, this was an opportunity that really changed my life for the better.
In short, this trip was one that I will remember for the rest of my life, and the people who I met are friends I will one day enjoy remembering it with.
Junior Sherpa, Vail Mountain School, SOS Outreach participant for six years