My application process was a stressful one since I only find out about this great opportunity the day before it was due. I had not seen my club advisor for a while, so when she finally told me, I was worried that my rushed application would not make it. I stayed afterschool to work on my essay and application. My two best friends were there too and we helped each other with our essays. I have always been an independent person, so I felt more comfortable helping than receiving help. I sent the application in by fax the morning of the due date. I never thought of the trip itself until I received a call for the interview. At that moment, my head swam with thoughts about what could possibly lie in the future. I thought about the other teens applying and how they had a better chance than me since they had more time. I remembered feeling frazzled during the application process and thought how I could have done better if I was calmer. Then I thought about what the trip had to offer. Where would I go? How long would the trip be? Who would I meet? I told myself to calm down and just answer the questions. I remember being nervous and speaking faster than I normally would. The questions made me realize the reasons as to why I applied. I had nothing planned for the summer and I did not want to waste my precious time off from school. I yearned to travel – I wanted to visit places unknown to me that showed me a different view from what I was used to. Meeting new people and comparing cultures also appealed to me. It seemed great to me that I would get to meet new friends on the trip and that we would have a close bond in a matter of days. I would share the experiences I gained and tell my friends and family about the great times I had. I imagined that it might encourage them to go on a trip to places they have never been. Although I thought more about the trip after I applied, I still had a mixture of curiosity and nervousness for what the future had to offer.
California Caper #2 was the best experience I have ever had with friends. The first day, I was worn-out from staying up to all night for my flight. I tried to be friendly and make friends, but in truth I just wanted to pitch a tent and fall asleep in my sleeping bag. The group activities were fun because as a team, we all pitched our tents and we later went to bowling. I noticed that most of the kids had formed cliques while I had only made one friend. The counselors were kind enough to try to engage campers who were being left out into groups. I scouted out for potential friends and I saw three. I walked up and started talking; we immediately clicked and they became my closest friends throughout the trip. The next day, I made three other friends and we all formed a group. It was fun to be with them because I knew we had common ideas and pastimes that most of the other teens probably never thought of. Our stop in Salt Lake City was great fun! We went to Park City where we went on slides and zip lining. I enjoyed our camping week because we got to know the teens in our tent and our group activities integrated us. Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon had beautiful vistas that were our reward for hiking more than a mile. We had to all make sure that we would not get dehydrated or fall of the edge. Although it sounded hazardous, I was mostly blown away by the structures of the canyons. It seemed as though Mother Nature chiseled away through the canyon forming nooks and crannies that soon enough formed a network of sculptures. In Scottsdale, Arizona we had our first day of hotels! Even though it may not seem like much, I missed having showers that were not timed and electricity. We did a Pink Jeep Tour that allowed me to bond with other girls I did not spend much time with. We saw picturesque landscapes and our ride was bumpy, but fun. Las Vegas was one of my favorite cities with its outlandish street performers and gorgeous hotels. We stayed in the Mote Carlo hotels were my roommates and I shopped and visited the pool. Due to our age, we were not allowed anywhere near the casinos, but in Vegas, nothing is short of entertainment. One of my favorite activities was surfing. I had longed to see the Pacific Ocean and I became excited when I knew that I would be surfing in it. I got up once for about five seconds and that small feat made me feel proud of myself. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park was great because I had never seen so many African mammals up close. Even though it did not come with the luxuries that hotels have, staying at UCLA interested me because it gave me a glimpse of what campus life would be like. Universal Studios and Disneyland were full of great rides that my friends and I went on since we are all rollercoaster fanatics. Lake Tahoe by far had the best vista and rooming experience. The ropes course was my favorite activity throughout the trip because I had a feeling of self-accomplishment when I reached the top platform on one of the courses. I never thought that I could have done it, but I proved myself wrong and surprised some of my friends. The whole trip was great except for white water rafting. My counselors and some of my friends said that I would look back on the experience and laugh. I do not think being stuck on a rock for an hour and a half with my lower body submerged underwater is something to laugh about. Maybe one day I will look back on it, but not soon. We then continued on our trip to our last stop to San Francisco. By that time, we had all begun to feel dejected because the trip was ending and so was our time together. On our final night, my friends and I hugged each other until we had to go. It was a bittersweet moment knowing that I would get to see my family again, however, I did not know if I would ever see my friends again.
I learned many lessons from this wonderful trip that I was grateful to experience. Being without my mom gave me a sense of responsibility because I no longer relied on her to do chores that I was expected to do on the trip. I learned how to use a washing machine and I even showed some kids how to fold their own clothes. I also came to appreciate how blessed I am to have accessible showers during camping week. One of the best experiences I had throughout the trip was making new friends. Never would I have thought that I could become so close to people I had only known for a few days. With my friends, I knew that I had discovered a bond that would last a lifetime. I think seeing a different part of America had a lasting impression of me. I had never been to the West Coast, so I was awed and surprised to see a different part of this nation. In my mind, I always saw this country in a certain way. With the trip, I expanded on the idea that there are different people with different lifestyles that pledge to the same flag I do. I saw beautiful vistas that I want to share and possibly see again. This trip motivated me to work hard so that one day I could experience another trip like the one I went on. All in all, this “trip of a lifetime” was a great deal of fun that taught me life lessons and I could not be more grateful that I had the chance to live.