In these unprecedented times, many of us have found ourselves reflecting on what we have, what is really valuable and essential, what we hope for, who we are and, ultimately, what matters most – our children.
As we face these extraordinary times we also find ourselves facing choices and examining our priorities for ourselves and our families. What can we offer our children at this formative time in their lives to prepare them for this unpredictable world they are about to inherit?
Inevitably, all adolescents will hear that long-awaited call of adulthood ringing loud and clear. Ahh. Free at last…away from home, parents, brothers and sisters – Life is good! And it can be. And, it’s not always easy. How do we support our children to answer this call in a safe and healthy way?
We know that children who experience certain formative experiential life “lessons” before they are launched into the world actually do better. These are not lessons measured by SAT or ACT scores. These can only be experienced by taking controlled risks, moving outside one’s comfort zone, trying new things and expanding one’s horizons.
Just like a child who has to transition from the comfort of his/her backyard to the school playground, all children must eventually navigate on their own.
The first step begins with living independently – free from the guiding hand of a parent – in a safe and healthy environment. In this setting, young people meet new people and adjust to new surroundings while learning communication skills, sound decision-making and critical thinking.
And then, there is travel, but not just any travel – travel on The Road Less Traveled.
Why? It is simply one of the best ways to learn and prepare young people for what lays ahead.
Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness.” Indeed travel on The Road Less Traveled is that – and, so much more. It is life-transforming and challenging. Traveling allows us to face our fears and test our limits. It lets us create our own world view and makes a lasting impact on self-confidence and maturity. Travel is about discovery and finding oneself. It develops open-mindedness and understanding through interaction with people from other cultures and faiths. Travel helps develop an ease and comfort with those different from ourselves – whether it be a tent mate, a wolf, a monk, or a tribal elder. Travel allows us to contribute to and be part of a larger group and world as we live with others, independent of home and family.
We know that there has never been a greater need to empower young people to become themselves and create change, no matter how large or small. Engaging with landscapes, cultures, and individuals through travel inspires, empowers and informs. When our children return home they have an adventure to share. Interested and interesting, they have a story to tell, inspired by a world and people they never imagined existed. Filled with confidence, self-reliance, excitement and new ideas, they have something more to offer – to their schools, to their communities, and to the world. And that is when we know we’ve done our job.
The privilege of spending summers away from home is like nothing else. It is, first and foremost, just that: a privilege. And, on The Road Less Traveled, it is also so much more.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call us in our Chicago offices. We have an amazing and highly knowledgeable staff that can answer any and all of your questions: 800-939-9839.
We encourage you to explore our entire website, too. Get to know who Jim and I are and why we started this organization, browse through our 2015 summer programs, or read for yourself a story from one of our alumni travelers.
Learn more about our travel programs by scheduling a personal presentation with our Director, Jim. No matter what transition your kid is going through, the adjustment period can be driven in a positive direction—towards open mindedness, appreciation of the world and of others, and comfort with ones’ self.