Some of the most frustrating moments of teaching teenagers occurs when you realize they are simply choosing not to be amazing.
I saw it work many times. Students who recognized the opportunity provided for them from either the wallets of parents, school funding, or fundraising, and made the most of it. I saw when students actually tried to answer the questions I posed, or do the assignments associated with our outings, they blew me away. They thought deeply and came out of the week wanting to be better and knowing both sides of most issues. They emerged empowered.
I also saw it not work many times. Students who came for a free ride around D.C, wanting simply to take photos and engage with their hand-held screens. They didn't want me to ask them any questions, they didn't want to "think," reading was too hard, and they just didn't really care. I'd try my best to make them care, to pull deep thoughts out of them, to bring up interesting controversy, but in they end they choose what their experience was going to be. They emerged tired.
"It's so frustrating", I'd think. "I've prepared this amazing opportunity for them, and I know if they would just participate in it and allow me to help them, they would get so much more out of it. I know what it could be, and they refuse to enjoy it."
Then it hit me.
I need to trust.
"For behold, I have prepared a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them, inasmuch as they are faithful and continue in humility before me" - D&C 105:12