Last week we took some of our students that participate in our life-coaching program, through the Dixon “World Record Corn Maze”. As you enter the maze they give you a map to help get you through. We complained that it was lame that they gave you a map for a maze, wasn’t the adventure supposed to be us trying to use our keen sense of direction and stamina to make it through?
Upon looking at the map for a brief moment we all quickly recognized a familiar café brand name located half way through the maze, as if the Starbucks was a re-fueling station meant to get you on to the end. Immediately we made our first goal – Get to the Starbucks.
The path started easy, long curved paths led us to the first checkpoint (almost to Starbucks!) During this time I had the chance to get some one on one time with a few of the students. I began to talk with a young man named Mario. Mario came on our camping trip back in September. He immediately started off with, “I am graduating this week!” Mario is 19 years old and has been attending a charter school designed to help students who are academically behind to catch up. Like all high school students who finally get to graduation he was over the moon excited, but as he continued I found he had so much more to celebrate, he was celebrating life.
Mario was diagnosed with brain cancer at 14 years old. He would go on to spend a lot of time at UC Davis medical center which of course led to many missed days of school. When he was able to get back to school, he not only had to catch up, but he also had to deal with a new mentality that had set in while he was undergoing treatment. Mario found himself, hanging out with the wrong people and making poor decisions. He explained that all of this had side tracked him. Mario, had no options left when he entered the Charter school and it was his last chance.
As Mario and I continued our conversation through the maze we noticed something was wrong. The entire time we had been following our fearless leaders who were becoming extremely confused. As we stood looking at a wall of corn and a Starbucks green wooden structure not too far past the wall of corn we realized we were lost. How could this happen. Oh. Wait I know. We actually did need the map!
After looking at the map, re-adjusting our route and internal compasses we continued on.
Mario shared more with me headed towards the Starbucks. Before he enters college next fall he is going to spend some time giving back. He has decided that the best place to give his time will be at a hospital. After spending so much time there as a teenager he can’t think of a better place to give back to those in need. He explained that not only will it give him a chance to help but he will also get great work experience for his future.
As I began to sing him praises and encourage this new life goal of his, I found that we had reached the Starbucks. It was perfect timing as I could use a mug of apple cider. And then I heard one of other students say “This isn’t a Starbucks!” It wasn’t a Starbucks, it turns out they had only sponsored a wooden checkpoint as advertisement! We disappointedly continued on with the confusing maze and after 3 hours total we emerged just as the sun dropped below the horizon.
I am so glad that Mario had been there for me that day. I needed his story to help me realize that sometimes the maze isn’t great on it’s own, but when it is filled with great people it can be an amazing adventure. Mario has been coming to our life coaching program learning the skills needed to succeed and lead. He is a great example of the potential that every student has no matter what their circumstance is.