meyer_garrettTake 30 seconds to compliment the person to your left.

Think of the warmth you felt as your neighbor gave you appreciation. With a group as talented as all of you…it will not be the last time.

It will feel good but I think you realize as much as I do that standing on those stages and soaking in applause will never mean as much as looking out into the crowd, pass the clapping patrons, to see the smiles of those that you love.

We got the opportunity to pack our provisions on our back and see cairns marking our path on our overnight trips. The cairns encouraged us each time we passed them, especially Ki-Joo, and let us know we were going in the right direction. In our lives post-NYSC, cairns wont always take the form of a small pile of rocks. In fact, we’ll be able to choose our own. As scientists; published works, as musicians; well-attended concerts, as Quidditch players; hoisting the World Cup. Our increasingly diverse technological society gives us endless tools, assessments and inventions by which to judge our lives. I’m looking at your college admissions, promotions, and Facebook quizzes. But I think that each of these candidates falls short in guiding us to a life well lived.

Return to that award ceremony, with you front and center. Again you look out to see the ones you care for and there it is. More than the applause, the recognition, more then the accomplishment; that is what you should use to mark your path through life – the honest, undeniable, connections you make to other breathing human beings and the lessons you learn from them. Choose them to be your markers. Choose them to be the cairns.

I have experienced so many of those cairns at this camp and seeing the smiles on your faces at the beginning of this speech makes me think you have to. I’d like to mention a few of my cairns and the lessons I’ve garnered.

From Mackenzie and Cesar Oscar Jimenez; I have learned I want to study abroad.

From Lucas; a cookie always tastes better when shared.

From Mike; you’re never to big to to admit you’re scared or that you want held.

From Peter and Geoffrey; good things do happen after 2 AM, as proved by our conversation on the nature of God until 3.

From Peter Mulvey; a heartfelt letter trumps a dozen text messages every time.

And from Carrie; how to be a better best friend.

I think we have mixed feelings as we leave camp. For me, the experience seemed like one of Dan Perry’s Frisbee flicks. It spun wickedly fast, but it always moved forward towards a conclusion. When we took time to slow down, it became more of a poorly thrown chicken wing – hilarious, and likely to smack you in the face. But the most important connection between NYSC and Frisbee is that neither has purpose without people.

So go home, grab a Frisbee, and shoose a cairn worth following.

If you look good while doing it, Panger might take your picture.