By: Rachel Friedman
Here’s a fun fact about this Summer 365 Campbassador: I love to travel. I live for the adventure of finding the hidden restaurant around the corner or the taxi driver who wants to share all of a city’s secrets with me. Furthermore, I am at my best when I am exploring a new culture and community. I feel free, like I can conquer the world one discovery at a time.
Even better than the trip? The accomplishment I feel when I’ve landed back home, knowing that connection I’ve made with a foreign city or country will motivate me to become better than who I was before my travels.
And here’s the absolute best part about my love for traveling: It all began with camp. As we all know here… every road leads us back to camp!
After my last summer as a camper, I was faced with a tough decision, do I stay for my waitress summer? Or, do I try something new? I chose the latter of the two and have never looked back.
At 15, I had the opportunity to leave my camp family for the summer and embark on a crazy fun adventure in the Northwest of the United States. I spent four weeks with a brand new group of camp friends camping, hiking, climbing, surfing, and singing/dancing to Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’ (it’s still one of her greatest). When my plane landed 28 days later, I was crying because my teen tour summer had surpassed every expectation and it still does to this day.
Nine years later, I found myself faced with the same decision. Do I stay as a Group Leader at camp again or shake my summers up a little? Again, I chose the latter, and again I never looked back.
The past three summers, I have taken almost 100 teenagers on teen tours to Spain and Peru, where they studied Spanish and completed community service. I watched each and every one of them make friends for life within seconds at the airport and face all their fears and anxieties head on. I saw them build schools and care for elders in a capacity that only the mind of an innocent youth can. Every time, their abilities to survive and flourish in a country so unlike their own impressed me. My admiration for my trip members grows even now as I see them earning acceptance into top universities and taking on leadership roles and/or internships in school that will for sure lead them to continued success in their lives.
The reason my trip members were so admirable is because they all possessed the qualities of a camper. To me, the word camper is synonymous with social, adventurous, independent, and bold. From the first-time campers to the alumni, we all encompass certain qualities that will lead us to conquer whatever path we find ourselves on. We all had those characteristics before camp, but our summers brought them out for all to see.
The summer of teen adventure, whatever it may be, will only magnify these qualities. Whether your teen decides to go on a trip (stateside or abroad) that involves community service, language, photography, backpacking, pre-college enrichment, or adventure, they will find themselves discovering their love for travel. Even more importantly, they will discover themselves in a way they have never done so before. I don’t just encourage teens to do this, I am adamant that they try this amazing and unique summer experience!
Just in case anyone is wondering about all the adventure out there for your teens to conquer, here’s a hot list of 10 must see destinations for teens to travel:
4. Ecuador & Galapogos
5. Costa Rica
9. California & The Grand Canyon
10. Southeast Asia
ABOUT SUMMER 365: Summer 365 is the go-to, free advisory service when searching for the perfect summer program for your child or teen. As moms and former campers, we have already done the research, and have first-hand knowledge of the top sleepaway camps, trips, and travel throughout the country and around the world. With us as your guides, you can rest assured that you will find the perfect experience for your child – and have fun while doing it!