Trip of a lifetime

Empowering students through summer travel experiences

Rachel Buccalo

When I received my acceptance letter from Trip of a Lifetime, I expected a trip that
would give me an insight on life in another part of the world. Although this turned out to be true,
I gained so much more from the trip than I had anticipated. In a duration of only two weeks, I
was able to explore famed sights in four states with friends I will never forget. By being plopped
down in a random seat on our tour bus by a counselor, I gained a friend who would be by my
side for the rest of the trip: a person who I was able to quickly bond with over our differing
summer vacation end dates. I embraced every opportunity to see geological features in real life
and not on a computer screen: whether this meant holding my breath during every steep incline
that my group’s Pink Jeep endured or hiking the Grand Canyon in 113 degree weather. My group
was able to cool down in the air conditioned bowling alley that we went to on the first night: an
event that spurred conversations and built a sense of community. Nonetheless, we visited a
countless number of places that each had their own impact on my distinctive experience. The
term ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ has numerous connotations to those who were accepted into the
program, but, to me, it can simply be described as an unforgettable trip that was able to pack life
lessons, loving friends, and beautiful sights in a small suitcase and High Sierra backpack.

To begin the adventure, Egypt (another participator in the Trip of a Lifetime program)
and I met in JFK, and soon after, waved goodbye to our smiling families. At that moment, we
were propelled into a swarm of teenagers who would soon become students I’d laugh and cry

with. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how anxious I was of what could happen between the
group, whether there would be fighting or certain students disliking each other. What I came to
realize was, since our group made up such a diverse community of people, you always had a
chance to meet someone new. Because this was the case, I ended my tour with friends from
numerous states, backgrounds and opinions. Simple conversations were created from giving a
water bottle to another during the Grand Canyon hike, and laughs were shared when I was
dunked under a waterfall during Bumper Boats. Even though activities like these can be
reciprocated, memories with new friends are irreplaceable.

On the trip, my tour group and I stayed at 5 different hotels; a quantity that required my
group and I to live out of our suitcases and adapt to our surroundings. Every few days I had to
acknowledge the fact that I would be moving to another hotel soon, which required me to keep
track of all of my belongings so that I could easily pack. My organizational and prioritizing skills
grew tremendously from having to deal with this aspect of the trip. I was required to keep track
of all of my belongings so that I could easily pack in a period that I carved out a certain amount
of time for. By developing these skills, I also became more independent; a trait that definitely
grew throughout the trip. From deciding where I should eat in Wet and Wild waterpark to how
far I should hike in the Grand Canyon, I have made individualistic decisions that would usually
be made by others. Even though staying in a hotel room with other students requires you to be
interdependent, the freedom you receive outside of each hotel requires you to rely on your own
intuition. I not only became an exceptional organizer and prioritizer, but I also realized how
much more mature I’ve become.

  • 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

    "I am really and forever will be thankful to Trip of a Lifetime for giving me such an exceptional experience this summer that will be forever remembered."

    "I am really and forever will be thankful to Trip of a Lifetime for giving me such an exceptional experience this summer that will be forever remembered."

    Jennifer

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