A lot comes to mind when thinking about whether a Bold Earth summer is right for you. There are many things to consider, like the activities, itinerary, packing list, and destination. These are all important parts of our summer adventures for teens, but there’s one aspect of our trips that we believe stands out above all others.
The friendships made on Bold Earth trips are what makes our summer adventures unique. These friendships only happen because of the incredible individuals who decide to try out our trips. We’re proud of the connections our students make with each other. We’ve also realized a few of the key reasons these friendships happen.
Although we play get-to-know you games and participate in group activities, much of the real bonding happens because the group is living together. They’re also navigating the joys and challenges that come with that. Each night, whether you end up in a campground or staying in a hostel, single-gender accommodations are shared with other members of the group on a rotating basis. This means that your tentmates or roommates will be diverse.
Not everybody feels comfortable being themselves in front of a group of new people in an unfamiliar place. In a smaller group, it can be easier to open up and talk about how the trip is going and where you’re coming from. Sharing accommodations gives you a chance to have some downtime without being in the full swing of daily activities. These initial evenings are often where students start to figure out that they have some things in common with the other people on their trip.
Shared experiences are powerful
In the next phase of the trip, you’ve started to get to know your group and are having more relaxed conversations with everyone. This is when the activities start to get really fun. Whether you’re about to zipline over a thousand foot canopy of tropical rainforest or looking up at your first epic granite rock climbing route, the fluttering feeling of anticipation is one that’s being shared by everyone in your group.
With the good times also come the challenging times. There might be an evening where a group of students is having a hard time making dinner turn out the way they hoped or someone who is feeling frustrated they weren’t able to stand up during the surf lesson. The thing about shared experience is that the challenging times can sometimes bring us closer together than the fun times. Both play an important role in making us see each other as real people with individual experiences.
It’s hard not to get real
Being really good at something can be fun, but being not great at something is often when we show our true selves. On a multi-week trip where you’re learning all kinds of new things and trying many new activities, there’s bound to be something that you’re doing for the first time. You might not get it right or maybe there are other people in the group who have a lot more experience doing it than you do. Whatever the case, trying something out that you don’t know how to do is a powerful thing. It shows the other people in the group that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in front of people you don’t know very well, but once one person allows their true self to come out, it often has a domino effect. Everyone has something that makes them feel nervous, uncomfortable, embarrassed, or anxious on a trip. Being able to talk about these things is like taking a huge exhale at the end of a long day. It feels good to allow the pretenses to fall away. This is when the best conversations happen and the closest friendships are formed.
Things get a little silly
At the three quarters mark of a trip, the time you’ve spent with your group might feel like it’s been much longer than it really has. There have probably already been some ups and downs, amazing experiences, and personal challenges. Breakfast has been burned, the GPS has taken you down the wrong road, and rain has canceled part of the itinerary. You’ve also stayed up telling stories by the fire, gazed at some of the most incredible stars you’ve ever seen, and learned some very real things about yourself and the other people sitting around you.
And then something really ridiculous happens. Maybe everyone’s tents collapse because of a windstorm. Maybe your transport gets delayed and you all end up in a diner singing renditions of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” Whatever it may be, your adventure will take a turn for the silly. You’ll sit there wondering how you went from being at home in your normal life to this bizarre moment in the blink of an eye.
Hopefully by this point, everybody knows that the people on this trip are just people. They share a lot of the same thoughts and feelings as everybody else. At the end of the day, life is so strange and silly that all you can do is laugh.
The trip comes to a close and airport day approaches. It’s only been two or three weeks, but so much has happened since the day you arrived. It might feel like it’s been months. It’s time to go home and share your stories with friends and family. If there were moments of challenge, you got through them and are standing on the other side. The moments of joy, goofiness, and pure fun are memories for you to take with you.
Whatever you’ve experienced, you know the group of people on either side of you have been through it, too. Nobody else will have felt exactly what you felt, but your group will have seen a new side of you. Maybe it’s a side of you that doesn’t always get to come out. Hopefully, you’ll take a little piece of what they taught you and remember your Bold Earth summer for many summers to come.
These are some ways lasting friendships are formed on Bold Earth trips. It doesn’t happen the same way every time. Every trip is as unique as the individuals who make up a group. That being said, there’s some quintessential magic that is stirred up from this particularly epic combination of components: teens, adventure, summertime, and new experiences.
If you want to learn more about Bold Earth’s 2023 summer adventures, check out our Adventure Page.
Still have more questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to hear from you.