After packing for days for Teens Westward Bound, the day of departure finally arrived. As my parents drove me to Davidson College, the point of departure, I suddenly began to feel a monster of nerves rise up inside me. I was about to depart on a trip across America for twenty-three days without my parents, without a phone, and without a computer. I was going to be traveling for 23 days from North Carolina to California and back. This was going to be the longest trip I have ever taken away from home, and I couldn't help feeling nervous, anxious, and afraid. What if I forgot something? What if I couldn't make friends with the other travelers? So many worries began to flood my mind.
â–º SEMI FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
We pulled up into the parking lot, and I saw the charter bus, vans, and tons of teenagers that would be my fellow travelers. Right before leaving, after everything was packed up, the Teens Westward Bound counselors climbed up on the bed of a truck to make announcements. They advised me and the rest of the eighty travelers to be prepared to come outside of our comfort zones and have open minds about others. This trip wasn't just about seeing new things; it was about experiencing new things, and that is exactly what I did.
I had fun, challenged myself, and made life-changing friendships. As everyone said their goodbyes and the buses pulled out of Davidson College, I had no idea how much this trip would change me, how the people would change me, and how much of America I would experience. I helped prepare a meal for 80 people; I slept under the stars every night; and I traveled thousands of miles on a charter bus. I learned how to trust people and discovered what real friends are like. Friends are people who worry about you for the rest of the day when they lose you in Disneyland. Friends are people who encourage you when you are climbing the Grand Canyon. Friends are people you can count on, support you, and make you want to be a better person.
Teens Westward Bound was a unique experience and helped me expand my mind in ways that would have been difficult at home. In this world free from the distractions of home, I was able to make friends based on their character and what they showed me through their actions, not what I saw from them at first glance. This experience is hard to duplicate, but I've learned from this cross country trip how to suppress judgment on others and how to have an open mind and heart.TWB and all the people I met along the way have changed me to be a much more happy, joyful, and loving person. I think from this experience I have learned to accept people as they are and not to try and change them. I've learned that people don't change, only your perception and acceptance does.
One of the most important things about taking a trip, especially one that is across America for 23 days like Teens Westward Bound, is to have an open mind. Things go wrong, things go right, personalities clash, you click with people. Just try to make the best of it, enjoy yourself, and you'll have an experience you will never forget.