Butterflies in Formation!

I slept through my alarm, rushed to get ready. Time to wash the dark bags from under my eyes was not in the schedule. It’s a cold and early morning and I lack motivation to unload the bus and set up the rig. I throw my headphones in my ears and power through the set up. The kids begin to load in and for some reason I’m just not into the show today. Most days I can barely wait for the students to load in and see our show, but today is different.  The show starts and just before I go on stage I get an unexpected feeling- butterflies. I haven’t felt nervous before speaking in quite a while, so why now? Why today do I have uncontrollable butterflies flying around in my stomach? Then I remembered back to the first show we did. It was on the first day of school for a fresh batch of grade nine students. That day the principal gave a speech in an attempt to make them feel more comfortable at their first day of high school. He said, “I know there are butterflies flying around in your nervous stomachs, but I hope today that the butterflies will at least fly in formation.” Thinking back on this made me smile from ear to ear as a stepped out on stage. As I told my story of my first Hero Holiday trip I began to relive that experience. I honestly poured my heart into my speech and hoped that the students would here my words and that my words would speak truth.

After the show I was passing out brochures and 6 different students complimented me on my hair. This was definitely not the response I was hoping for. As the gym slowly emptied a girl approached Shayna and I. We could tell she wanted to say something so we asked her how she liked the show and what her favorite parts were. After an awkward silence, she came undone. She told us how she doesn’t have many friends at school because they’re all into drugs and she doesn’t want to lead that lifestyle. I noticed the cuts on her wrist and was able to share some of my challenges growing up with her, our stories were surprisingly similar. It broke my heart to see such a beautiful, young girl with so much potential, hurting so badly. Shayna and I had lunch with her, shared our stories on a more personal level and compared scars. It was amazing to be able to connect with her, bring her hope and encourage her. I actually felt like she believed me when I told her that her life has an incredible amount of value.

After lunch it was time to tear down and say goodbye. While tearing down Shayna and I were extremely upset by the realization that we had to leave this girl, so we decided to each write her a note. In the note I wrote everything that I wish someone would have told me when I was 14 years old. I told her how beautiful she was, how her life had purpose, and I even threw in a couple of my favorite quotes. We stuck the notes in her locker and I hope they made her smile when she found them. I think about her often and hope that in some way we gave her a glimmer of hope. After talking with her the lack of sleep, rushed early morning and hard work didn’t matter anymore. I realize now that each show that I am apart of has the potential to change lives and I am deeply grateful to be a part of something like this.

Brittany, a LiveDifferent Academy student on the road

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 27th, 2011

Ninja Kicks

This past week has been a great week on tour with Team Ninja! We had a great weekend in Hamilton visiting friends and hanging out at the Magill house. Some of the team drove to Canada’s Wonderland and proceeded to get themselves sick from rides and bad food. I was not willing to pay for that kind of entertainment. Early Monday morning we left Hamilton for tour again and where we started with a few shows in the GTA. Christal and Ashley came to one of our shows to get some video footage and also to spend some time with the team. It was great to see them both again. We then traveled to Ottawa and have spent the last few days with the Lobban family. They are amazing people and have been treating us like Kings and Queens.

Friday we spent the day in Maniwaki, Quebec. We did a workshop in the morning and then after lunch we did a show. We were able to hang out with the students for most of the day and they were amazing students. The band even did an encore song for them after the show. We had time in between the workshop and the show to bond as a group. Some of us picked up random instruments and started to play Johnny Cash. It had us all in tears laughing and caught the attention of the students. It is moments like that, that make the best memories on the road. Later that night we finished the day at a small restaurant; one of the Lobban’s favorites where we celebrated the birthdays of both Jamie and Jacob. There were lots of laughs! Today a few of us went down town Ottawa to see the parliament buildings and there was a zombie walk. Hundreds of people were dressed up as zombies. It was an amazing sight.

On another note, I would like to welcome to the team, Tim Sailor. He will be our new bass player that is replacing Jacob. Unfortunately Jacob has to leave tour due to health reasons. I am sure that Tim will be a great fit. We may need to teach him some Ninja kicks.

Brett, Road Team Manager


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 24th, 2011

Shack Day Seven: Crazy, Amazing Week

Amazing Week

Hola! Well we have pretty much finished shack week. Tomorrow at 5:30am we will be let back into the big house across the street. It is really crazy to think that it’s over. It has been a long, hard, crazy, fantastic, wonderful and amazing week. We have all learned a lot about what it is like to live in Mexico without a whole lot. We have learned what we can and can’t afford to eat, as well as how to start a fire with damp wood while using only one match! We have learned how to work in a tomato field, how to pick rocks (yes there is a specific way) and we have learned how to go clamming. All of these things were worth learning and by doing them we also learned a lot about ourselves and what life must be like for those who do these jobs regularly.
We learned how to work as a team through thick and thin and learned to rely on each other. We learned how to wake up at 4am so we could catch our bus to go to work. And we learned how to shower with a pot of cold water and an empty bean can. But most of all we learned how to live a life that is much different than our norm.
I wouldn’t change anything about shack week. It has been such a fantastic week but I don’t know if I could have done it for longer. I know I could do it if I needed to but I don’t think I would choose to do it for longer. But what I have taken out of this week will stay with me forever, things that I don’t think I could ever forget. This has been the best experience and I have learned so much: I know I sound like a broken record but I really have learned a ton. Watch out everyone because I am home tomorrow and I will have a million and three things to say about my shack experience.
xoxo – B
(written by Britney Favreau, LiveDifferent Academy student)

Amazing Week


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 21st, 2011

So Much to Be Proud Of


Today we worked in the tomato fields for the second time. It wasn’t as bad as the first time we did it. Even though we got tired, sore and hot, I realized that we always ended up smiling. I cannot think of a time in my life where I was working that hard and yet so happy at the same time. I had been told work in the fields was hard and I had seen people working in the fields as we drove by but now I know how difficult it really is. But I also know that with great people to talk and laugh with all day that the day goes by much faster.
At the end of of every day this week we end up being so proud of ourselves and each other. Today we kept up with the Mexican workers and they apparently kept commenting to Santi, our translator, how impressed they were with our work and commitment to seeing what life is like for them. Between the four of us we picked a whopping 130 buckets! Also today we are proud of our shack building skills because it “rained” briefly on our shack today while we were at work and the inside of our shack is dry! Just the cardboard on the floor by the door was wet but was easily replaced. We worried all week how our place would stand up if it rained and if we would have to sleep with wet blankets on a wet floor like many people have to who have not been able to find enough plastic. And now we know we wouldn’t have to worry. We have so much to be proud of this week.


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 19th, 2011

Lots of Time to Think


It’s interesting how eventually things like sitting on cardboard around the fire-pit even though our pants are already dirty, eating the same thing nearly everyday and knowing the price of things at the grocery store become normal.

You learn a lot when you live in a shack made of cardboard boxes tied together by mop strings and plastic tubing. We now know how to start a fire in the dark and how to cook rice over that open fire without it being complete mush. I am also proud of us for learning how to barrel through tough situations by singing songs, playing games and just talking. But what I’ve learned the most is that being hungry sucks more than being wet and cold from clamming. And I’ve learned that one day of a sucky job is only one day and that it isn’t fair that people have to do it everyday to take care of their kids.

I guess it’s pretty obvious the shack lets you do a lot of thinking. As of today I don’t think I would want to do it for any longer than seven days but I am happy that I am doing it. I am okay with my last two days being tomato field work and rock picking because I know we can do it. For our day off I am not that bored thanks to all the thoughts the shack has left me with; that and we worked an extra half a day or extra money. I have also had time to spend, happy time, with my “three best friends that anyone could have” (I did say we sing to entertain ourselves).

Happy Sunday everyone and please be thankful for your pay cheques, pocket change, landscaping rocks and tomatoes. Because I know that this experience has made me thankful for the many things that pass through someone else’s hands for a wage less than our pocket change so that we can have an easier day.

Te amo, Hailee


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 18th, 2011

Shack Day Four – I Still Love The Ocean

OceanIt’s hard to describe my feelings towards Day Four of our Shack Adventure. Today was a great day in many ways. We woke up and had our daily 2.75 eggs to eat for breakfast before heading to work at the Big House. Work was pretty fun. We swept the driveway and chipped paint off of paint trays. To pass the time I sang most of the songs from “The Sound of Music”. It was a jolly time. We did a great job working there for the morning and then we got to head back to our shack for a couple hours (possible siesta!).

We made lunch, patched up our shack and packed our bags for out trip to the ocean. We got to ride in Gus the Bus and we even got to jam out to some pump-up music on the way. We were headed to go clamming and we were actually excited about it. For those of you that don’t know what clamming is, it’s when you get a type of pitchfork and you go into the ocean, stabbing the ground until you hit a clam. Once you hit one, you reach down into the water and sand to grab it in hopes that it is big enough to keep.

It was very cold at the beginning but after a bit it actually wasn’t that bad. This would have been a fabulous experience for me if I hadn’t nicked my toe with the pitchfork within the first few minutes of clamming – an occupational hazard. Despite this it was still a great time even though we were really chilly by the end. We warmed up by a fire and ate our daily macaroni and hotdogs for supper. Our day got extremely better when Julia brought over a pot of hot chocolate for us to drink. Going to bed tonight I still feel great. I know that we are struggling through this but we are staying positive and trying to make the best of it. I am extremely thankful for all that I have in my life and Day Four has helped me realize how lucky I really am.


~ Lisa Gudjonson, a current LiveDifferent Academy student living in Mexico in a shack.



Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 17th, 2011

A Domestic Work Day for the Shack Experience

I must say, after yesterday’s long day of tomato picking I am extremely sore! I can’t imagine having to work that hard two or more days in a row. Today we worked for the Señora at the big house. She gave us coffee first thing – the best possible way the work day could have started. I have definitely learned to appreciate the little things more than I ever have before.

When the work day, which consisted of fixing the fence, washing windows and other cleaning, was over we went grocery shopping with the wages we earned from today. We bought pasta, sauce, hot dogs and tortillas. Supper was way better than last night, rice and bean tortillas! We finished building a small structure where we each had a bucket shower. It felt so good to be clean again after two, hot sweaty days. We also got a lesson on how to wash our clothes on the concrete washboard and are hoping the few items we washed in the dark will be clean and dry by tomorrow afternoon. Now that we are figuring out how to live like this I am enjoying this shack experience and am hopeful for a better night sleep than our first night in our new home.

~ Kristen Warnock, LiveDifferent Academy student


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 14th, 2011

Autumn Colours in the Tomato Field

SOL Shack

For their first day of the Shack Experience our LiveDifferent Academy students worked alongside Mexican workers in a tomato field. About three-quarters of people living in this Baja area work in the fruit and vegetable fields that grow in this irrigated valley. Phrases I heard the students say today include: “I will never look at tomatoes the same way again….My back hurts….How do they do this all day, six days a week for years and years….I hate tomatoes….My job at home wasn’t as bad as I thought.” We got the same two questions over and over again from the other workers: “Why are you working in the fields?” and “Do you like the work?” It was hard for them to believe that a group of Canadians would want to see and experience what life is like for them. We told them their work was hard. And when we would ask them if they liked their work, they would respond something like “Not really but it’s a job and we are thankful to have one.”

SOL ShackHere are some thoughts on the day from one of the LiveDifferent Academy students, Hailee Rogers:
“The only way we will see fall colours this autumn season is on the tomatoes that we picked today. The work was hard but not unbearable, except we are all fairly sore now. We made our first dinner of beans and rice over the fire tonight. When wrapped up in the tortilla though, it tasted more like hot mush. And for lunch tomorrow we get the leftovers but cold. For some reason I’m thinking our leftovers won’t taste nearly as great as Julia’s always do. I was proud of the eight pesos we managed to save. With 135 pesos (what we made after paying for rent, water and childcare) we bought beans, rice, tortillas, drinking water, soap, toilet paper and eggs. So, eight pesos was pretty good. I am excited but nervous for our first night sleeping in the shack we made. Hopefully there isn’t too many bugs. I am hoping it will be warm and cozy. Tomorrow we are doing housework for the big house across the street and I am hoping its less physically demanding than tomato picking was today. Buenas noches before I lose daylight and consciousness.

p.s. Thanks Mom for teaching me good work ethics.

SOL Shack

SOL Shack


Author: LiveDifferent


More Than A House

This past week was an extra special week for us LiveDifferent Academy students in Mexico because we built a house for Pedro and his family. This was my very first house build and I feel so blessed to have been able to build for this family. Pedro has helped us with previous groups during the building process and was always excellent to have around. His family definitely needed a house. The family consisted of Pedro, his wife, and two parents. The two parents don’t speak Spanish, they only speak Trique. We did our best to learn some simple greetings in Trique and our attempts made everyone laugh. The older mother is so awesome. As small as she is, she tried to help in any way that she could and we caught her trying to hammer nails and lifting ladders. She was absolutely adorable!

On a Wednesday we worked hard to make the concrete pad for the house and on the Monday of the following week we started working our butts off to build this house. We are a small group of girls but with the help of Pedro and Santi, our translator, we are made it through the house build magnificently! The house looks great. The walls is up, the roof is on and we finished strong. We did a lot of cutting, painting, measuring, hammering, pulling out nails, talking in Spanish, and drinking Coke. I am very excited to have gotten to know this family and build them not only a house, but a new home.

~ Written by School of Leadership student, Lisa Gudjonson

Stay tuned for more blogs next week as our LiveDifferent Academy students complete their week long shack experience!


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 11th, 2011

Lookout Sioux Lookout

We recently spent the weekend in the oh so exciting town of Sioux Lookout with the ever so large population of 5000. We arrived late Thursday night after traveling on roads that seemed to lead nowhere and seeing some interesting wildlife along the way such as foxes coyotes and even a moose. We were billeted with the amazing families of former Hero Holiday participants Jenna, Paige and Rylie, who were on our Dominican Republic trip this past summer. We performed a stellar show at the local high school Queen Elizabeth Secondary School and got a great response from the students of which a large percent were native given our northerly location in Ontario. Now you might think ok, what are you going to do in this super small town for fun, read a book or something, toss a stone or two? Well that was my initial thought as well. The father of one of our School of Leadership students; Carly, was gracious enough to give us a tour of the town. Along the way we crossed a bridge over a river and someone made a comment how it looked like it be fun to jump off of. The next thing you know we’re pulled over and leaning over the edge of the bridge ready to jump. Did I mention it was 8 degrees that day. So we jumped off that a few times and once we were too cold to continue, we loaded our wet selves back into the bus and cranked the heat. Another stop for us on our tour was to the local garbage dump where we watched and waited for the local bears to come by and feast on the trash. Apparently there can be up to seventy bears at a time there! But unfortunately, due to the time of year, most of them were hibernating and we only saw a momma and her cub.


The following day Jenna’s dad (billet) offered to take a few of us out walleye fishing on his boat. Four of us went, myself and Jamie were experienced, but Jenn and Nathaniel were new at this. It was beautiful out on the water and the leaves on the trees were just changing colour. Apparently it was a bad day for fishing for those parts but where I’m used to going I’d call that a pretty good day. I caught 2 walleye too small to keep, Jenna’s dad caught one that was too big to keep, Nate and Jamie got skunked, and of course due to beginners luck Jen caught the most bringing in 5 but only one sizable enough to keep. On our last day we went out to watch the local hockey team, the Sioux Lookout flyers play a team from Thunder Bay. It was a good game, only one fight though (is it bad that that’s my favorite part of the game?). All and all a pretty epic weekend especially for such a small town in the middle of nowhere.

Josh, Road Team Assistant


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 6th, 2011