Editor's note: Following are the thoughts of SOS Outreach participants from Eagle County who attended the Olympic Games in London this past summer.
First off, I would to say thank you to SOS and Global Sports Development for giving me this experience of a lifetime. Going to London to see the Olympics and going to see the city was the best time ever. Getting to meet Bob Beaman and to hear about his life at the Olympics and after was amazing.
During this trip I got to meet many people. I got to meet people from Canada and from London. Getting to meet kids from the London Sports Trust and kids who had done artwork and writing poems shows how much they wanted this trip. Spending days and nights with this group of kids couldn't have been any better! I got to learn from the London group about what some of the museums meant to them.
Getting to see the Olympics was the best thing I have ever done. I went and saw the men's and women's beach volleyball. The third game of the women's match was the best even though I was going for team Germany. These girls know how to bring the crowd to its feet. By the end of the match team Germany won 32-30. I was hoarse the next day because of how much I was yelling at that game.
Being able to watch professional volleyball players play will help me so that I am better for my volleyball season.
Getting to use all five of the core values meant a lot to the SOS group because we got to use courage, wisdom, discipline, integrity and compassion every day.
There was one day that it took all of us to walk from the London Eye to the Hyde Park VIP section. Even though it was a long walk, we all managed to get there before it started. Being able to collect pins and getting to shop for gifts for the family back home was great.
Leaving my parents at the hotel was the hardest thing I have ever done. I missed them every second of every day. Being away from my dog and from my family was making me homesick! Knowing that my family was over 1,000 miles away, it helped to know that they were going to be at the airport when I got off the airplane.
As soon as I turned on my phone, I got a text message from my mom asking where I was, which made me happy because I knew that she was outside waiting for me.
Junior Sherpa, Battle Mountain High School, SOS Participant for six years
Changed my life
Olympics 2012 in London: a dream come true. Eighteen kids from the United States were chosen to go to London, and I was fortunate to be one of them. Knowing that I was representing the United States, I knew I had to be on my A game.
After landing in London, my heart was pumping. I was ready to see everything. From culture to athletics, everything seemed to pop and look amazing. Not knowing the events we were going to see was half the excitement.
Getting to London felt as if I had won the lottery. Anything after was unbelievable. I thought this trip was going to be just for fun, but the truth is I changed.
When we landed in London, I still couldn't believe it. I pinched myself, trying to make sure it wasn't a dream.
The first day we were there, we didn't rest. We were up and ready to explore. As we headed down where we were staying, we were in shock.
The building we were staying in was called High Leigh. This building was a mansion, hospital, church and now a hotel. The staffs were extremely generous, and we found out most of them were volunteers and part of the Salvation Army.
Knowing how generous people are made me think, if they can do things for others, and not think of themselves, then why are most things all about me? I became more aware.
Traveling through London made me see the differences between the United States and Great Britain. I realized the United States is more socially insecure. By that I mean races are more separated here than there. I saw that in Great Britain every culture was mixing with each other. I felt safe and secure.
I enjoyed seeing that everywhere we went I saw people helping and not racial problems like are faced here. I love America. I just believe that the United States can become more of a unit. I mean, if Great Britain did it, we can do it, too. It's not impossible.
In London, we met with kids from Canada and London. I learned from talking to some of them that they don't have perfect lives. They struggle just the same way as I do. Their lives haven't been filled with high points, and you can say they are "at-risk kids," too.
Knowing that there are kids with same problems as I have is a relief, since I know I am not the only one.
Other than that, I learned how each culture reacts to one another. We all speak English, but different accents. It was interesting and fun to try to mimic one another's accents.
Each culture had different ways of making friends, it was interesting. We all were shy, but we became so close at the end, it was depressing to say goodbye. It was like saying goodbye to a family back at the states. The only problem was that these people we were probably not going to see ever again, and it hurt more than anything.
I also learned that being generous always pays off. Just knowing that the Olympics had many people there was crazy. But the wild thing was that everyone I saw there was helping out one another, and it seemed as though I was back in Eagle -- the little community that helps one another and everyone helps keep the town running.
Being such a big event, I thought that I would have had to just take care of myself, but everywhere I went, someone was there to give a hand. I knew then that the Olympics brought people together. Everyone just wanting to see their athletes win, and this brought Americans, Mexicans, British, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, all different cultures, together for this one massive event.
This trip helped me see how the world works outside the little community I live in. It opened my eyes to see that life outside the Eagle Valley is amazing.
At the beginning of this trip I believed that I was just going to have fun, and that's about it. I didn't expect to learn so much and find things I didn't know about the world, but now that I look back this trip has changed my perspective in many ways.
Junior Sherpa, Eagle Valley High School, SOS Outreach participant for seven years