This is a guest post by Jake Berman, participant and instructor on The Road Less Traveled for six summers in the United States and abroad. What may distinguish The Road Less Traveled from virtually all other summer experiences is the scope of its personal impact: it goes deep, it goes broad, and it lasts forever.
I was a spindly, sometimes fussy 15 year-old when I set out on my first RLT expedition, a wilderness trip that introduced me to the natural wonders of the American west and the self-discovery that such settings draw out. RLT altered my life path, in every respect for the better.
As a participant for two summers, I found myself swept up in a process of personal and social transformation. The young man who emerged was both substantially different and all the more me. I was more confident, more able, wiser, more patient, more attuned to my responsibilities as a family member, friend, student, citizen, and human. It unleashed a process that has never stopped.
How does RLT do this?
They are masters of their craft, bringing expertise, passion, and singular focus to every facet of their trips: developing personal responsibility, fostering team-building, inspiring an appreciation for the natural world and cultural differences, teaching the mechanics of safe, responsible, illuminating travel, and empowering youth to advance their life skills, the kind that can’t usually be taught.
I am now a doctor and public health professional. Never do I doubt that my summers with RLT were far more significant than organic chemistry in making me the physician I am. Never do I question the impact RLT had in shaping the leader and teacher I am becoming.
What sets RLT apart? Jim and Donna Stein have that rarest type of expertise: helping us excavate the better angels of our nature and set them loose upon the world.
Jake joined RLT as a teenager when he was 14 years old traveling on Water and Rocks, and Leadership Challenge. He returned and led trips with RLT for four summers around the world. He went on to do a combined degree program in medicine and public health, completed his residency in internal medicine, and now serves as a chief medical resident at the University of Washington. He plans on pursuing a career in general medicine and health policy, though he hopes to work in as much wilderness medicine as possible. Best of all, he married his fellow RLT leader sweetheart Annika (Swanson) Berman.