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Not too long ago, during a conversation about teaching rifle marksmanship and history at Project Appleseed events with friends, someone said something along the lines of “but you don’t get paid for teaching.” A few people responded in the affirmative. After this past weekend though, I would have to disagree.

Yes, it is true that we don’t get paid monetarily as we are volunteers, but that isn’t everything. We are paid in the ability to teach and the attentiveness with which our students listen and watch, the teachable attitudes that we get to work with, the smiles, firm handshakes, the look in the eyes, the laughter, the thanks from those who attend our events, watching someone when they make the break through and finally get it after working hard at something, taking away the anxiety of someone as you work through the firing of their first shot ever, the friendships made, the soldier telling you that what you taught him that weekend might just save his life, the child running up to give you a hug, the adult looking at you with respect, trusting that you know what you are talking about, willing to learn from you and do as you say – even though you are years younger. We are given the opportunity to watching the improvement in our students and work with them one on one, through the “easy” parts and through the frustrations, breaking down that barrier and overcoming the challenges. We are allowed to touch and change peoples’ lives. We GET to remember those who have gone before us and honor them by telling their story, our heritage. We have the chance to give ourselves away. These are just a very few of the ways that we are paid, and believe me, it is totally worth every moment of it.

Since last October, I had not been able to really apply myself to teaching a full Appleseed until this past weekend. I had, to some extent, forgotten what it was like to be a teacher, what it was like to be on the line, why I love this so much… This past weekend reminded me.

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