We planned the trip for two months. Our mission: to go into the small, remote country of Estonia and have the greatest time of our lives while changing the lives of others. It would be a ten day trip that no one would soon forget.
The plane ride to Denmark took approximately nine hours. While it possibly the longest plane ride of my life, I was pumped up with energy at the prospect of seeing the world and making a difference. Once we landed in Copenhagen we took a quick tour around the city and had a bite to eat before catching the plane on AirEstonia to Tallin, the capital city. After landing, our team was greeted by the host team from Tartu.
There wasn’t an open eye on the two hour bus ride to the hotel; everyone was exhausted from being out of our time zone and awake for a total of thirty-two hours. After a good meal and some time to recap on what would be happening the following day, it was off to bed to catch up on sleep and prepare for the excitement to come. Training was an interesting experience since we met the team from Texas.
We were paired off and immediately put into group exercises that would, no doubt, help us in the week to come. We got a chance to tour the town during the annual Independence Day celebration and we all learned a great deal about the people and the history of the country as a whole. It was a very good start to an overall amazing trip.
After packing, we loaded up the cars the next morning and headed into town meet the other teams and load the bus that would take us to camp. We made some stops to pick up some team members and equipment, but after an hour and a half, we had arrived. We set up camp in the small elementary school in a remote town just south of the city we had just left.
We got the sleeping rooms ready, set up everything we would need for dinner, crafts, and a comfortable ‘cafe,’ and we were on our way to start English Camp 2006. As the kids arrived and unloaded the buses, they began to fill the building and warm our hearts. In so many ways they were just like us, but in so many ways they were stronger, happier, and closer.
Our team was assigned the kids of high school age while the team from Texas was assigned to the middle school aged kids. We welcomed them with open arms and smiling faces as they continued to flood in. After the last registration had been completed, we were ready to start the fun.
We had a group session to kick off camp and lunch to follow. After eating, we broke off into our smaller groups to play games and get better acquainted with each other. It was incredible getting to hear them tell us all about their families and their lives. If only we knew it was just the beginning.
The week went faster than anyone could have wanted. It was over before we noticed it had gone by. So many memories and friendships created and so many tears to make reality come into focus once again. After loading the buses and saying goodbye, it was time to clean up and settle down. We were on the buses and on our way back to the hotel before we knew it.
As the mixture of emotions took over we could do nothing but catch up on some much needed sleep. We ate dinner in town and got a good night sleep before we headed back to Tallin for our last day. We headed out and took the train into town. We got into the city and headed for the hotel. After checking in we got our day started. We spent all afternoon shopping and touring the historic city. The sites were absolutely beautiful and full of unexpected history.
The whole week came and went before we realized it and we were left with memories that would forever change our lives. My trip to Estonia was unbelievable and unexplainable. It changed my life and made me a better person in the way I think about new situations and my outlook on other ways of life. I will never be the same and I can honestly say this trip is what made that possible.
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