Letters from Students:

Dear Project American Life Staff...


I wish I could have stayed longer so I would be able to learn without being stuck inside a classroom—learning from letters instead of voice and heart.  I will remember virtually everything from this trip as if my mind had been a video camera taping, and now looking back on a TV.  I’ve learned so much that I feel that a gift has been granted to me, something I cannot lose or forget.  I have new meaning to my life.  I know that I should live life to the fullest and not waste such a precious thing.  Thank you for this experience.  Thank you for my gift.


With love and compassion, - Isabel



Thank you for having us at Project American Life!  My favorite activity was In Search of America.  It was so real, and I feel sorry for the people of Berlin who had to live this way everyday.  But now the wall is demolished!  Thanks for sharing all of life’s secrets with us and for showing us how to reach from the valley to the mountaintop and showing us how to become all we can be.  I would also like to thank you for pointing us in the right direction and for showing us how to reach our goals.  It’s a long journey, and we don’t know what awaits us.  That is something you can’t teach us.  We have to find out on our own but once we get there, we will know what to do.  You’ve inspired deeply.  I wish I could pay you back but remember, once Judgment Day comes, you shall have your eternal reward.  May God be with you because it is “In God We Trust.”


Sincerely, - Robert



I just wanted to write to you to say thank you for all the amazing things that you’ve taught me.  You taught me that I should appreciate the things that I have.  I also learned why it is important to honor our country and our freedom.  A lot of our fellow Americans risked their lives and even died just so we can be free.  To me, that is a true American.  Also, today a lot of our fellow Americans must protect our country once again because of the terrorists.  Now, I understand why we should respect our country.  Thank you so much for showing me the way.


Sincerely, - Whitney



“How are you doing?  Thanks for everything.  I really enjoyed Project American Life a lot!  It’s not every day that you can take a field trip like that!  It taught me a lot more than there’s something else than cereal for breakfast!  It taught me to be thankful for what I have and not just wait for life to come to you but to grasp life with your hands.  Once you have it in your hands, don’t let go until you’ve made the best out of life. You all helped me realize that I may be smart but if I mess up my life, I’ll be stuck in a garbage can somewhere.  If I do my best though, I can soar to greatness.  Please write me back!  Come see us!”


Your friend, - Shawn



My daughter (Amber) has asked that I email you.  She has tried to phone you (she kept your cell phone number) several times, but cannot reach you.  I have heard nothing but how much she misses you since she left Project American Life three weeks ago.  I don’t know what you did that she became so attached to you within a four-day period, but I want to let you know that I greatly appreciate your kindness to my daughter.  I know that she will never forget you.  It’s amazing how sometimes we touch people’s lives so deeply without ever knowing.  Thank you so much.


Kindest regards, - Sharon



I would like to say thank you for all the things that the crew has done for me.  I would like to give a special thanks to Jamie for making things clearer to me about life. 

I really do thank all of you for helping me.






Thank you for helping me learn so much about myself.  Before I came I thought I was just my name—another face in the crowd.  But after I was there, I learned that I’m a special person—my own special self—and no one can take this away from me. 


Sincerely, - Nathan



What’s up?  I wish I was there now!  I miss that place soooo much, but mostly you guys!!!  I really had a great time!  I sung the songs on the bus.  When I started singing, everyone else did, too.  I still remember:  “Take bread 4 the journey and strength 4 the fight, comfort to sleep through the night, wisdom to choose at the fork in the road, and the heart that knows the way home.  Go in peace, live in grace, trust in the arms that will hold you.  Go in peace, live in grace, trust in love.”  Thanks 4 everything you taught me and for everything you did and gave to me.  If you can, will you send me a picture of all of you guys so I can make copies and give them to people?  Please write back cause I really miss you!





I would just like to thank you for two heart-filling trips and experiences.  Just coming to this camp taught me about being a free American.  I also learned about myself, about who I really am.  Project American Life has changed me so much that I wish I never left.  It was the best feeling in my life!  Some of my greatest memories are there.  When I was leaving from that beautiful place it made me cry on the inside, and it probably will make me cry on the outside after I’m finished with this letter.  Thanks Project American Life.





Thank you for offering this trip to our school.  I had a lot of fun, and I also learned a lot.  I’m proud to be an American because so many men and women died for people they didn’t even know.  Thank you for making this camp happen.  You could be anywhere else in the world, but you’re there.  Project American Life is truly the best camp in the world!  Thank you.


Love from, - Andrea



I just wanted to drop you a few lines of thanks!  I really had to use my brain because you challenged me to do things I would have never thought of.  The people in my group are the best of friends now.  When I got back to school, I remembered what Jamie said, to try to paint that pretty picture and put the painting on a strong foundation.  Now when a teacher or an adult tells me to do something, I don’t just do it—I do it the best I know how.


Love, - Stephani



Thank you for a great time last week.  My father is in the army, so I have grown up with my dad telling me about America and our Independence.  I thought it was something small, but you guys showed me that it is very big and important.  The experience that I will never forget is when we played In Search of America.  I have never been so happy to see the American flag than I was that night!  Thank you again for teaching me the real meaning of being an American.  God bless you all! 


Sincerely, - Amanda



I just want to say a quick thank you for being such a good counselor to me.  I want to thank you for teaching me that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and for teaching me about the light in me growing bigger if I make the right choices.  Thanks for everything.


Love your favorite fan, - Ryan


I had a great time at Project American Life!  I learned so much there and loved all of it.  This was a different camp from any other camp I have been to!  It was so much more exciting and interesting.  You have a great voice!  Everyday, I have those songs in my head.  Right when I got home, I started listening to the song, “To Annie.”  When I got home, I had already started missing camp a whole lot and all of the counselors.  I will always remember this camp.  My favorite thing we did was when we acted like there was a Berlin Wall!  That felt so real!  I think you should never close this camp down!  Thank you!


Sincerely, - Alex



Project American Life was the greatest experience of my life!  Please don’t ever forget me.  I really do love you with all of my heart. 


Your friend, - Laura



I would like to say thank you for the most wonderful experience ever.  To Doug and Jamie, you guys were more like fathers to me in just four days!  We all hope we will touch many lives as you guys taught us to!  So many happy, warm wishes to you, and keep touching lives, one at a time! 


Love and yours truly, - Karris



I had always wanted to be an astronaut before, but now I want to be a counselor.  I want to help kids learn about true stories and to teach them to appreciate what we have.  I think Project American Life was the most interesting thing I have ever been to.  I cannot show you how much I appreciate you.  I hope I can grow up and be just like you, except in my own individual way. 


Thank you, - Laura



I really enjoyed the In Search of America simulation.  It was a great experience and made me realize that I should be more grateful to the people who died for our freedom.  You made Project American Life a wonderful experience for me!


Your pal, - Charlie



I enjoyed Project American Life a lot!  I enjoyed all of the events like the night hike, team initiatives, In Search of America, and Brainiac.  I’m glad you were my leader, and I’m glad I got to go.  Some people cried because they didn’t want to leave.  I didn’t because I knew it wasn’t goodbye.  I knew I would come back some day.  I miss all of you and can’t wait to see you all again.  I’ll make today, Friday, the dash between the two numbers.


Sincerely, - Vanessa



Thank you for spending time with us and teaching us the way of life.  I really liked your sense of humor!  My favorite thing that we did was In Search of America.  It really taught me to appreciate everything I have and to treasure life’s moments because you never know where you’ll be swept off to.  The Caste System also taught me something.  It taught me to treat other people the way I want to be treated and never act like you’re better than someone else.


Sincerely, - Robert




Letters from Teachers:


The bus ride home will hold a special place in my heart.  I have never seen so many children cry—not just sniffles!  Oh no!  Big tears rolling down their faces.  I looked back at them, saw their faces and heard their sobs, so naturally I began to cry with them.  Then Amy looked at me, and she began crying.  Luckily, I had a box of Kleenex, which I just continued passing over my head.  The point of this story is to once again reemphasize what a special program you have.  When my toughest student can write, “We love you,” at the end of his letters, I know you have succeeded in changing his life forever.


Thank you, Jill Powell, Morris Elementary



There is no conceivable way that I could ever adequately express to you my gratitude.  I can never remember encountering a group more willing than yours to give of themselves.  I do not use the word “give” lightly.  The depth of your commitment to our country and to young people reveals your total commitment to God, our Creator.  Don’t give up!  God has bestowed on you an incredible gift.  He has worked miracles in getting us here and in us this week.  Just as each student now realizes a purpose in life, God will provide the means for you to fulfill yours.  I pledge you my support for Project American Life.  You will continue to be in my prayers, but I also will actively seek financial support for your program. 

We will stay in touch.  God bless you and all your staff. 


With sincere gratitude,


Sandra Montgomery, Academy for Science and Foreign Language




Letters to United States Senator Jeff Sessions:


Dear Senator Sessions:


I am writing to you about my trip to Project American Life.  I went when I was in fifth grade.   I am now in eighth grade, and I want to tell you that Project American Life is the trip I remember most of all about elementary school.  The whole experience was great.

While we were there, we learned so much about life.  We learned to trust each other by playing games and having to rely on each other.  Looking back, I realize that what I learned there changed the way I viewed my classmates and people of other social classes.  Even though we are all different, we are all still the same—Americans.

Another thing that really made a difference for me was that I became much more aware of other people’s feelings.  In order to get along in our society, we all have to be able to get along and respect each other.  I also became more interested in learning about our government and how it works.  I think, though, that the most important thing I left with was that we must all have faith.  We have to have faith in our government and in each other.  The people who wrote the Constitution had faith in God and our form of government.

If you can find some money to help more kids get to go to Project American Life that would be fantastic!  I am saving my money to help send someone next year.  I am also trying to get my church to sponsor a child.







Dear Senator Sessions,


I went to Project American Life when I was in the fifth grade.  I don’t remember much about the fifth grade now, but I do remember Project American Life.  I had no idea that this one trip would change my life the way it has.  I got a new perspective on the world around me, and a new way to think.  The little things count to me now.  I care more for others and am content with what I’ve been given.

It’s amazing how I felt when I left Project American Life!  I was so sad to go, but I felt like a new person—clean and pure.  I don’t have a lot; my family’s not rich.  I may not eat gourmet meals every night, but I’m thankful for what I have.  Some people have only a spoonful of rice to sustain them through a day of plowing and hard labor.  I seldom complain anymore.  It makes you look foolish. 

I relive my trip to Project American Life over and over again each day.  In that place where the only light at night was the stars’, I found me—a me that was born there and that has been growing ever since.  I’m in the tenth grade now, and I’ve gone through quite a bit.  But the lessons I learned at Project American Life are the reason I enjoy living so much!





Dear Senator Sessions:


I am a middle school gifted education teacher with the Tuscaloosa City Schools.  I have been privileged to take 6th grade students to Project American Life for three of the four years I have been teaching within this system.  This program is unequivocally the one thing I find the students remember most from their 6th grade year.  Each year my 7th and 8th grade students ask if they can go back to Project American Life!

This program is not just fun and games, though there is a lot of that; it is fun and games with a purpose.  Each activity is designed to teach an underlying principle that is the basis of our democratic society.  For example, before students even get off the bus they are assigned a “caste” designation.  Their position within the caste system determines how they will be treated and how they treat others.  The students either find this very empowering or very frustrating.  After just a few hours of this separation, the students seem ready to discuss other possible ways of governing themselves!

The other thing I find most impressive about the program is that develops in the students’ a sense of gratefulness.  We live in a nation that has been blessed-financially, democratically, materially, and politically.  We tend to take these blessings for granted because it is all we have ever known.  I find that Project American Life opens students’ eyes to the many advantages we have as citizens of the United States and creates a sense of thankfulness.  Project American Life also allows the students to see it is their responsibility to make sure these freedoms endure.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you further regarding the benefits of Project American Life.  I have a whole scrapbook of photos I could share with you!  I hope you will give the Project American Life program your support.




Minda T. Paxton, Gifted Education Teacher, Tuscaloosa City Schools


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