This summer, opting not to spend my days wasting away at home, I decided to travel. A teen tour seemed the obvious choice, being too old for sleepaway camp but too young to embark on any extended, out-of-state trip without family or an organized group. When I began to research tours, I was overwhelmed by my options – countless companies travel all around the world with teens each summer, and selecting the right length of time and place for me seemed impossible. However, when I stumbled upon West Coast Connection's community service trips, I was sold. With tours to Costa Rica, Hawaii, Peru and more, the tour groups' partnership with 360º Student Travel provides a creative combination of typical teen tour sightseeing and excitement, and meaningful opportunities to give back to the communities in which participants spend their trips exploring.
Not wanting to stray t00 far from home, I chose a 21-day trip to California. The trip truly was the experience of a lifetime, in which I was able to experience college life (we split our time between living on University of California San Diego and Los Angeles's campuses), California life (visiting beaches, Universal Studios, and tons of other tourist attractions), and best of all, community service. Though my trip was far from the most glamorous look at California, I was able to donate my time building houses for Habitat for Humanity, acting as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, and running a food drive for the Orange County Rescue Mission, among other service efforts. Despite all of our fun and exciting activities, contributing to the community was by far my favorite aspect.
To any other students who wish to get away from home for a few weeks without wasting their summers away, I highly recommend this trip. It was the perfect balance of worthwhile work and exhilarating exploration, my only regret being that I discovered it only for my last summer in high school, so I will not get the opportunity to go again.