The power of many outweighs the strength of the few. For proof, look no further than the teenagers at Project Adventure.
Saturday, five groups of teenagers built rafts using various materials including empty 55-gallon drums, inner tubes, wood boards, rope, duct tape and a sheet of plywood with holes drilled into it. The kicker? They had to paddle them across a small lake and back.
Each year the non-profit organization, which looks after more than 100 foster children, conducts a raft race. It's more of a raft building exercise as the teenagers don't actually compete against each other. Instead they work together to draw up a set of plans before executing the build of the raft. Once complete, five members from each group must test their contraption for seaworthiness as they embark across Rainbow Lake.
Director of Community Affairs Donna Auchenbach has been involved with Project Adventure for close to two years. In that time, she's seen teens grow and even go off to college. More impressive, she's seen teens mature into adults.
"When kids get taken away from their families and put into foster homes and moved around to group homes it's hard on them," Auchenbach said. "This is the best place in Georgia for them. Nobody does it as well as this program here does it. Some of these kids are more mature than adults."
Project Adventure teaches teens to work together, a concept many of them were never taught or have never grasped. In fact, whenever an argument breaks out, teens form a circle and talk about the problem. In essence, Project Adventure teaches them how to work things out on their own.
Teenagers work in groups based on performance standards set forth by PA officials. Auchenbach says the groups differ based on certain requirements. To move up a level, teens have to display certain characteristics and give a speech to their peers.
"They (teens) don't have to worry about staff calling them out when they act up, other kids do that for us," Auchenbach added.
The raft event is one of the highlights throughout the year. Volunteers including Rory Evans make it a point to break away from the fast-paced lifestyle of Midtown Atlanta to spend time with the teens.
Along with a group of friends, Evans, a flooring salesman by day, spends as much time as he can working with the PA teens. Last year he helped redecorate the large community room the teens share. This year, his group took a crack at building a raft. It didn't go too well as theirs fell apart as soon as it hit the water.
Help is never far away. As soon as one raft falls apart, teens rally together to pick up the slack and get their comrades back in the water. At Project Adventure, everyone helps each other.
"My goal is for us to work together and have fun," Assistant Director Aaron Nichols said between commands on his megaphone. "The kids get all creative and it's neat to see what they build. It's just good old clean fun."