My Eagle Trip to Robert F. Smith’s Colorado Compound

I attend Eagle Academy III for Young Men of Southeast Queens and my graduation date
is in June of 2023. I traveled to Blackhawk, Colorado as an Eagle Ambassador for the Eagle
Academy Foundation. My experience there was beyond amazing. I traveled with 2 other
ambassadors and 1 educator and we all agreed we would gladly go again.

While heading onto the plane I felt as if I was going to explore a whole new world. I felt
joyful, since this was my very first time flying by myself.
When my peers and I arrived, we expected strict rules, since we were going to be staying
on the property owned by Robert F. Smith and immediate workshops when we landed. But first,
the entire program stayed in a hotel to catch up on sleep and adjust to the time zone difference.
On the very first day, we learned what we would be doing throughout the trip and we all got the
chance to introduce ourselves. We even had an etiquette lesson. 

As the counselors provided us with different schedules each day, my apprehension turned
to surprise. I thought this would be similar to my other trips that involved workshops in different
states, but this trip was more lenient, letting teenagers be themselves still while respecting the
organization. We transferred to a house owned by Robert F. Smith. There, each day, we
remained busy in the mornings and afternoons. The range of workshops included mental status
checks, fly-fishing, climate change class, urban gardening, learning about birds, media and
photography, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, drones, coding, and others. 

Everything that we did was new to me. I was nervous to answer questions in front of others out of a fear of judgment, but it turned out to be a free space where everyone was encouraged to be comfortable
with themselves and others. Since we were in a different environment, many experienced some
sort of sickness or allergic reaction, but as the days continued on, we got over it. I had to draw
upon the Eagle core values for confidence, because I didn’t want to make it seem as if I was
scared of doing a big trip like this on my own. I turned out to be fine as my peers from my school
who have been doing this on their own personal time made me comfortable. The counselors let
the teenagers be themselves and let loose. I demonstrated leadership within certain workshops by
helping others that needed it. The trip taught me to be myself, and that I could teach other people
what they might be missing out on. It changed the way I think. Rather than just thinking about
myself, I’ve started to prioritize others if they are in need of help.

If I was given the chance to participate in this amazing trip again, I would absolutely
seize the opportunity—I especially loved meeting new people and making new friends, but also,
I’m sure to learn more each time I go.
The work that I accomplished during the Colorado trip changed some of my goals for the
future and what I want to be. I went from wanting to become a fashion designer to a software
engineer in computer science because the trip opened my eyes to more learning and possibilities. 
Also, in the upcoming school year, I look forward to spreading more kindness and joy to others
rather than handing off mean looks to people that have never judged me. I look forward to
focusing on self-care, and my classes, balancing those aspects at the same time so that I am not
so stressed that I repeat the multiple burnouts I experienced in my last school year. And, my post- Eagle Academy future will definitely include giving back to my community and other
small communities in need of help.

Colorado was really an amazing trip and it brought out a different person than I was
before I went. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is willing to try a new experience
or wants to reach the next level in their life.


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