Trip of a lifetime

Empowering students through summer travel experiences

Bria Taylor

My Scholarship Experience!

The feeling of obtaining this opportunity was absolutely an experience. Before I get started let me tell you that you’re in for a treat and while I am writing this essay, I will be giving you first hand vivid images of my Trip of a Lifetime. I will be walking you through the impeccable and astonishing experience that I was blessed to have encountered. I would’ve never imagined encountering this great journey with so many new adventures. When arriving at the American Airlines at Laguardia Airport, the feeling of it all was all a rush that this was really happening. My sister and I was surely astounded by the amount of people coming along this trip and with this we were surely expecting a Trip of A Lifetime and indeed we’ve experienced it. When arriving in Denver and let me tell you, the temperature was beyond humid, I remember it was 90 degrees outside and it was continuing to increase rapidly. The plane ride. It was sick meaning that it was intensely frightening for me because I have an anxiety of heights and as soon as the plane began to take off, the feeling in my stomach was such a rush, but once we hit the atmosphere, everything became surreal.

When we arrived in Denver at 10:53 a.m. Everything feel extravagant. As we reached the hotel which was the Embassy Inn, we headed into the conference room which was basically a welcoming meeting. My Trip Director, Kevin Markland came in with an astonishing introduction and already enthused everyone for what was to come. For starters, he decided to play a game as a way of getting to know each other, so he decided that we should circle up but categorized everyone by birth months. When everyone was finally in a circle, the first game we played was two truths, one lie which was very intriguing for myself as well as others. It was so fun because many people implemented some fairly drastic stories which was recognized as lies. For example, someone mentioned that they fainted in the White House and drunk from Bill Clinton’s cup. But through this exercise, instantaneously everyone began to feel comfortable with each other. The second one was something simple, mostly a variety of questions which were: Your name, what do you hope to grasp from this experience? where do you want to go throughout this whole journey? What was one fun fact about you, etc. As time passed, everyone began to mingle and when doing so, they’ve managed to find many similar aspects within each other and could relate automatically. The counselors which were the overseers and guiders of our whole trip, they were phenomenal. Soon enough, everyone received room keys and the way it was grouped was 3 people per room and if lucky two, however depending on the amount of people we had on the trip, there was a larger amount of girls rather than boys. I was one of those lucky people, well my twin sister and I. When arriving to our rooms, it was spectacular, hands down it was something you would never have thought would come your way and I could say that for the first night of being on this trip, it was definitely not a disappointment. It was like a mini penthouse and it was all ours. The best part about it was that this became the first hotel we’ve ever been alone in. They gave us two and a half hours to do whatever we needed to do which was more than enough time. Whether it was taking a shower, taking a nap, or anything else, they gave us ample time to adjust. When the time was up, everyone met in the lobby within the same time of us getting off the plane and settling in the hotel, soon enough they wanted our first night to be the kick off so they decided to take everyone out to the cheesecake factory for dinner and then out bowling which was amazing. Honestly, I've never been to a cheesecake factory and I thought that it was actually what it said itself in being, a factory but was I surprised. While on the bus, I've seen some amazing things you wouldn’t expect to see on a daily basis especially in New York where I was from. It was the little things that stood out to me like the Rockaway Field and they had the strangest but yet unique carnivals. The colors were ravishing, they were even more beautiful because we were driving in the night so everything began to sparkle like a disco ball. When arriving at The Cheesecake Factory, the surroundings were incredible and the inside was even more amazing. Everything looked traditional and western. We had our own reserved tables, mind you there was about 37-40 people and this was a big group including our amazing staff members: Kelsie, Danna, Rob, Brianna, and Kevin. The menu was great, we had a great variety of different types of food from appetizers all the way to glamburgers and dessert. The best part was that you could order anything you wanted, nothing was coming out of your own pocket. But just be reasonable! I remembered I ordered the South Fried Catfish that comes with steamed green beans, buttered corn, mashed potatoes, onions and a nice size catfish. In addition, I also got a ceasar salad and a lemonade. I was full by the time I’ve reached my mashed potatoes. The food was great. After an amazing dinner, we went bowling and after grouping everyone into teams, games started and it was fun. Everyone enjoyed themselves and everyone treated each other with respect. They were very supportive even if you didn't hit any pins or knocked them all down, treated each other as a winner because its not about winning or losing but its the joy of the game. Finally after a long day, everyone returned to the hotel and the next time we had to wake up was 7a.m. You didnt have to worry about waking up yourself because that was going to happen everyday for the entire trip. The next day approached and they are very serious with the wake up call. Our trip director even said that he will yell in the phone if you’re a heavy sleeper. Luckily, my sister and I are early risers so it wasn’t a problem. We always woke ourselves up an hour earlier than the time that was required. Everyone had to meet at 7:30 a.m. in the lobby for breakfast and it was amazing. From first hand looks, you will never catch the counselors slip up. So they actually had a chef who’d prepare your food and they had a menu where you’d pick anything you want from it and they would make it for you. Additionally, they’d also had other options preferably if what was introduced to you, didn’t meet your needs: such as oatmeal, grits, cereal, bagels, etc. The menu was mostly eggs and you could choose whether or not you wanted just simple eggs or egg-whites or even egg omelettes. But that’s not all, they had sausage, bacon, pancakes, french toast, hash-browns, and with your omelettes you could have anything on it whether its peppers, tomatoes, meat, cheese, etc. The breakfast was great. After breakfast. we had to return back to our rooms to gather any last items and just tighten up our room a little bit for inspection by one of the staff members. They did this every time we would check-out of a hotel as their policy of leaving each room not as clean but decent enough just out of curiosity for the people that have to clean them. Then once that was done after they give you the a-okay, you could take your luggage and aboard it on the bus. Everyone did a great job especially being that we stayed there for a day.

Our next destination was South Dakota and it took us 5 hours to get there. Now when I first heard South Dakota I was thinking sandy roads, very muggy, etc. But it indeed left quite an impression. On the bus I was never bored as well as everyone else because everyone did their own thing. They would put on movies and have great snacks like goldfish, vanilla cookies and board games, so you would never be bored. Although, some just wanted to sleep and that was fine too being that half the time on the road consisted of over 6 hours. Interesting fun fact that I’ve picked up was that Wyoming has the population of 76 and we were all related so they say. Wyoming was also the first state to allow women to vote. After a 10-hour long drive, we finally arrived in South Dakota. It was massive. The one thing that I loved most about this trip was that everything we did was an adventure. We arrived at the Fairfield Inn Hotel and with this was the attachment of a Waterpark, cool right! So our agenda was to settle into our rooms and at a certain time frame, we were all required to meet back in the lobby to head over to the waterpark. This was the plan and once we’ve reached the waterpark, I saw a huge bucket of water come down hardcore and it splashed everyone. But that was the fun of it because everyone was planning on getting wet anyway. Personally, I was not a fan of pools just because of anxiety reasons. However, just looking at the surroundings was incredible. They had the longest water slide, a diving area, etc. After the waterpark, everyone went back upstairs to change for dinner. The funny thing was that within the hotel you had the waterpark and the restaurant inside so we didn't even have to drive anywhere but stay in our local area. The only dilemma that many came across including me was the cell phone service. Depending on where you go, you won’t always find yourself to get decent connection, however there was always a way for someone to get in contact with pertaining to keeping in touch with your families. To continue, soon as we went into the restaurant, there were a variety of food displayed on the table, but you had to take what you ordered. We had to order an hour earlier being that it was a lot of us and the time we were planning on going to the restaurant in the next hour in a half, they were closing. Thus, this made all the more reason to order earlier. When everyone finally found their food, we began to feast with each other, having a good ole time. Mind you this was only day 2 and everyone was already comfortable around each other. Just a tip, the only way you will be able to enjoy yourself on the trip is to step out of your comfort zone and mingle with new people meaning network into a different direction. Trust me, while on this trip, I’ve met some amazing people even people that were international. My British family(Riley and Eliza). I’ve never met such unique people and their accent was to die for. After everyone finished their dinner, everyone returned back to their rooms getting ready for what’s to come the next morning. The next morning arrived but we were staying in South Dakota for two days. The same routine was done from the last hotel, breakfast, heading back to our rooms them coming back down at a specific time but this time we were going hiking and going to Mount Rushmore. We got onto the bus and went to the Bagland National Park to begin our hike. Everyone was ready, having on our appropriate gear and filled water bottles, there was no way anyone was trying to miss out. Luckily, Kevin didn't want to push us too hard so he gave everyone something practical and fairly easy, a 1 mile hike which was no biggy. While on the hike, the scenery was spectacular and breath-taking because we noticed oblivious plateaus that was land-filled with beautiful animals and massive mountains. These weren’t ordinary mountains but mountains that seemingly whatever was going on during that time period left amazing imprints of different shades of colors. I’ve even saw caves, the view was unexplainable.

After the hike, we headed back to the hotel to change and came back onto the bus expecting to see Mount Rushmore. But this was very special, so special that they wanted everyone to dress in patriotic attire representing the colors of the flag. So of course, I was here to dress to impress and the counselors actually told me that I was the best dress. The counselors did not disappoint either, they all almost had matching outfits but with their own twist to it. As we were headed to Mount Rushmore, I encountered some fun facts such as the names of the 4 presidents built onto the monument: George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. At which they all impacted America thrusting forth life changing journeys ending off with a good fight. It took 14 years to complete the project. Additionally, about 3 million people visit it every year. Also, it took 400 men to build it and surprisingly no one got injured. The faces of each president was 60 feet tall. The coffee breaks originated during the carving of Mount Rushmore during one cold morning. Another fact is that it was name in 1880 by a man who looked at the mountain and found it without it name so it became pronounced as what it is today as Mount Rushmore. When we finally arrived, there was already at least 500 people there and when I looked up everything really started to sink in, you don't actually start to feel what it is until you see it first hand and when I saw it, its better than the pics I’ve seen on the internet. Then they put on this impeccable film that gave the background story of each president implementing the idea of why they are so deserving to have their faces carved into a mountain. Mount Rushmore is absolutely and essentially grand. I definitely plan on coming back. After that, we went to a souvenir ship at the Badlands National Park and we had to walk in our walking groups so no one could get lost. We needed to have 4-7 people to a group no more and I had 5: Briana, Peaches, Selina, Sarah including myself. We did a little shopping looking for gifts for our families and they really had western things. After that, we went off to a town called “The Wall Drug” and this town lies an enriching story behind it. Basically, a woman came about an ordinary store and overtime many began to hear about it and its been expanding into different stores and restaurants till this day. Again, we were in our walking groups and did some more shopping. After shopping, soon enough everyone returned onto the bus and we were headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. But this time they wanted the groupings of the tables to be different being that everyone found their clicks, they wanted everyone to get a chance to mingle with others and start new conversations with different people. I thought that this was a great exercise because it gave many the opportunity to have a thorough conversation with another and find out interesting things about that person that you would’ve never thought. That same day, we found out that it was someone’s birthday, a fellow camper so Kevin and the counselors sent off a birthday cake for him and everyone sang Happy Birthday. It was something simple but very nice and he greatly appreciated it. Within the next hour, everyone returned back on the bus and for a great night, Kevin decided to treat everyone out to Dairy Queen(DQ) for such a great day. Everyone leaped out of their seats once they found out they were getting ice cream. Finally, we returned back to the hotel restless and prepared to get back on the bus the next morning to Utah at 6:30 am. When arriving to our next destination, we had a small amount of time to get ready and attend a rodeo and dinner at a pizza shop. Soon enough when arriving at the rodeo, everything about it seemed traditional. I’ve seen the most incredible things ever especially being that I’ve never been at a rodeo,I was overjoyed. There were many cowboys as well as cowgirls and you even had toddlers 12 and under riding horses and they really knew what they were doing.. The best part of the show was when the host allowed all children 12 and under to line up on the field and the game was so cute. They had two goats to run around, the smaller kids more so the age of 4 & 5 would be able to get a head start. The key was that the goats had ribbons on their horns and the goal was for two people to get the ribbon and bring it back to the host for a special prize. A boy named Reagan from Minnesota and a boy named Brian from Texas won. It was so cool. The cowgirl was taking her time, pacing herself finishing within 44 seconds. After the rodeo, we went back to the hotel. Preparing for inspection as our routine and then we were off to Jackson, Wyoming.

This experience is something I’ve always dreamed of becoming reality and now that it became my reality, I am certainly going to take advantage of everything that comes my way. I’ve seen a lot of people, a lot of land and mountains. After Jackson, Wyoming, we went to Reno, California and we passed through Las Vegas. But this time instead of driving, we took a jet there as a faster way to get there. When then arrived in Lake Tahoe, California. The weather was beautiful, it wasn’t too hot nor too warm but it was just right where you could just sit out on the beach and fall asleep. Soon enough we got settled into our hotel rooms and came down stairs to the beach for exciting adventures, which were tubing and wakeboarding. Everyone had a blast. After this, we had a dinner competition and Kevin took everyone out ot the supermarket and got whatever we needed for our competition. The campers even tried to be slick and asked my roommates and I what we were making, but my good friend Peaches told them its confidential. At the end while on the bus on our way water rafting, Kevin told us that everyone in my condo and I won the competition. In my condo it was Briana, Peaches, Selina, and myself. Let me tell you the dinner that we made was out of this world. We made strawberry covered chocolate, salad, tilapia, sauteed shrimp, rice, peas and corn, buttermilk biscuits, asparagus wrapped around in bacon, strawberry and banana smoothies with the beach straws. The counselors loved it and to top it off Kevin said that he stopped eating fish and just for what we made, he said that he’s starting back. Then at the end we gave them a beautiful card to just tell and show them how much we appreciate them as people as our counselors, etc and that everything they are doing for us, its being recognized. This brought them to tears. Soon enough after everything, we went water rafting which was something I was frightened of especially being that I could not swim and didn’t like water but I at least wanted to challenge myself to see my capacity so I tried it and I loved it. Last but not least, our last destination was San Francisco. I was just excited to see the San Francisco Bridge especially being that a lot of movies was filmed by it, it was so amazing. The downside of this city was that the temperature was 63 degrees and it was a little chilly. When we finally arrived at the San Francisco Bridge it was better than expected. It was very beautiful and of course everyone took lots and lots of pictures. Furthermore, we then took a cruise to The Alcatraz Penitentiary Center and I luckily got the opportunity in meeting a former prisoner. Even being inside an actual penitentiary which made it all surreal and intriguing. I’ve had the opportunity of looking at many of the prisoners rooms and also sitting in one. It was so riveting.

This Trip not only allowed me to see what I never thought I would come across, but it demonstrated how much the world consist of. This trip was better than amazing. It was a journey in which it inspired me in ways where was enthused in starting my own non-profit organization. Everywhere we went, it was something new and different. Every time we left a new city, I picked up new traditions, cultures, friends, etc. This trip brought out the best in me and it actually gave me the opportunity to branch out to new things and it stepped me out of my comfort zone to where I know that I am willing to go the distance. This is not the end for me but just the beginning for something new. I appreciate everything that I have came across for this was a memorable experience. I experienced living in a condo and a cabin and it was beautiful. Everywhere we went was something you would never expect.The staff was magnificent and they all demonstrated the uniqueness of themselves. I essentially am grateful that I had the opportunity of being entertained and watched over by a wonderful team and Stan the founder of this wonderful and successful organization, I thank him for this opportunity. I will surely recommend this to others. You indeed have a wonderful team walking behind you. Keep up the good work and to whoever is reading this, I hope that this has inspired you in being a part of this organization because surely you will experience A Trip Of A Lifetime!

  • testimonialImg
    "I may be multiracial and I may be living in the ghetto but what I am going to do with my life is going to be historical."
    "I may be multiracial and I may be living in the ghetto but what I am going to do with my life is going to be historical."

    Alphonso

  • testimonialImg
    “This trip made me realize that there’s more to the world than the South Bronx.”
    “This trip made me realize that there’s more to the world than the South Bronx.”

    Selina

  • testimonialImg
    "The trip has taught me to have confidence in myself and believe that anything can come true."
    "The trip has taught me to have confidence in myself and believe that anything can come true."

    Madelyn

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