What we learned from summer 2021

Roo Ruskan13 Feb, 2022
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Students belaying in Yosemite

Warmer weather is on the horizon

Perhaps it is just me, but every year as February rolls around, I am ready for winter to wrap up. Every sunny day on the forecast has me daydreaming of warmer weather. It is no wonder that I always spend February booking future adventures, eager to turn the corner into the spring & summer seasons! As I think about the future-fun-in-the-sun for summer ‘22, I am instantly transported back to last summer, where I spent 6 weeks amongst the California redwoods and sequoia trees, crisp Yosemite mountain breeze, and kayaking with otters in the sea. Last summer was the very first time that Bold Earth ran U.S. only adventures, and yet, it was one of the best summers we can remember.

Looking back to look ahead 

The truth is, last summer taught us so much. It gave us another opportunity to be grateful for all that we could do, rather than what we couldn’t. Bold Earth is historically used to traveling to Earth’s best places, with trip locations sprinkled all around the globe. Creating unparalleled memories in some of the globe’s most beautiful natural settings is something we are so used to. Our international itineraries are incredibly popular for good reason, and we were gutted when covid forced us to cancel them in 2020 and again in 2021. But looking back now, it is so easy to see just how special our United-States-only summer really was. Narrowing our focus brought us back to the core of Bold Earth. Reminding us that a Bold Earth summer is about so much more than just locations. A Bold Earth summer is about the magic we create and the community we keep, all coming together to remind us why we chose Bold Earth in the first place.

Devon, 15, secures the win for his team in Fourth of July Olympics

Dreamy stateside memories

With the world as our oyster, it is often easy to overlook what we can find in our state-side backyard. Last summer we saw more trips than ever to Hawaii and California. We had a record number of students who were first-time students, entrusting us to show them the ropes and jump right into the deep end of the outdoor travel world! We had students cut through canyons while rafting the Colorado River, wade through the Narrows in Zion National Park, and snorkel with Manta Rays in the Hawaiian moonlight. Last summer in particular we felt especially grateful for our connections with national parks and state parks, as well as with campsites we have worked with for decades. The ability to explore these incredible places with our students is a privilege we never take for granted.

Hanging in Hawaii

A summer of takeaways

When the summer wrapped up and we said goodbye to our students ‘til next summer, we were able to continue reflecting on the summer’s success. Last summer we poured more energy and resources into planning–making our trips more adaptable than ever–to be more prepared in covid times. We added new elements to our tried and true itineraries. Staff training was a massive success. New ideas continued to crop up everywhere. We got to consistently ask ourselves why we are here and how we can guarantee the absolute best experiences for our Bold Earth teens, no matter where we go. And one of our favorite takeaways from last summer was to receive the feedback we had hoped for: that regardless of where they went, our students had the time of their lives. From the moving emails to the after-trip phone calls from parents about the impact a summer with Bold Earth had on their teenager…we were reminded in the best possible way that what makes Bold Earth so special goes beyond the locations. But what we do in do in those locations that makes all the difference. Watching teens grow in their personal power on a Bold Earth trip. Watching them discover entirely new perspectives and ask enlightened questions. Facilitating nightly conversations with their peers that they may have never had before. Providing opportunities to reflect every day. To practice gratitude for what we were doing, what we were learning, and the unreal amount of fun we were having. Bold Earth programs cultivate resilience in our students, and last summer helped reinforce that for us as well. Whether that be games in the fresh mountain stream at the top of Yosemite, rock-paper-scissors for ice cream cones, or competitions in the parking lot of Target after picking up a piñata ~just because~. It was an incredible summer in even more incredible domestic locations. It allowed us to see so clearly, a focus that was less about where you were and more about who you were with. Forging Bold Earth friendships to last a lifetime and mentorships with trip leaders that students will never forget. Going back to our roots, and reflecting on the true core of what Bold Earth is, was incredibly fun. We are so grateful that our summer of domestic dreams still has us daydreaming months later, and we can’t wait to carry all of what we learned from summer 2021 to summer 2022. We hope to see y’all there!!

To see more footage from our 2021 adventures, check out our instagram for fresh reels and our YouTube channel for videos from years past!

Piggy backs in the Grand Canyon

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