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My kids have been complaining lately that they haven’t traveled much. The thing is, it’s their fault. I would love to do some fun summer travel with them, but they’re not willing to give up the things they usually do in summer (a music program in Queens and then a performing arts sleepaway camp for Jake, and a sleepaway camp for Fiona).
If they didn’t go to camp, we could take off anywhere they wanted. I’m glad they’ve found camps they love, but it does mean that they’ve never been out of North America, except for trips they were too young to remember.
They had an opportunity to travel this summer with an adventure company for teens, but we just couldn’t make it work with their schedules. I wish I could go in their places! But I can’t, so I didn’t end up working with the company that made the offer. I did a lot of research about them, though, so I thought I would share it with you in case you’re interested in something like this for your child.
I came across Rustic Pathways last year when I was researching an article about gap year travel. I remembered being impressed by the huge variety of trips they offered, everything from semester-long language immersion trips down to 8-day trips for 12- and 13-year-olds in their Young Explorers program.
Rustic Pathways currently runs trips in 19 countries around the world, including our own, for students ages 12 and up. There are trips designed for first-time travellers, young photographers, baseball players, adrenaline junkies, soccer lovers, future doctors, divers, kids who love animals, and much, much more. You can choose a program that includes volunteering in the local community, or not. Each year Rustic Pathways produces an impact report detailing their projects around the globe.
The trip that I was looking into for my own kids was the Mountain Air and Village Service program in the Dominican Republic. It’s an eight-night trip and they would spend 3 out of the 7 full days of their trip working on a community service project, about 20 hours total. It’s not all work, though. There’s also a white water rafting trip, a visit to a local ranch, two days at a beach, and a day in Santo Domingo, including a tour of a UNESCO World Heritage site. It seems like a really good balance between work and play.
There are also language immersion trips to Costa Rica that include practicing Spanish with a host family and taking language classes, and to China where you stay at a university. There are curriculum-based programs in different areas of study for kids who want to make changes in the world. There’s even a program on an Australian island that teaches survival skills!
From everything I’ve read, Rustic Pathways has super-local, long-term investments in the places they take the kids. They partner with local community leaders and organizations, schools, and NGOs to develop projects that have a real benefit to the local community and economy, while giving the kids an experience of a lifetime. They also offer various scholarships, financial aid programs, and discounts.
If you’re looking for an adventure for your teen, this seems like a good company to check out!