The Road Less Traveled is defined by its leadership. Our leaders are more than just instructors and mentors. They are guardians, in the most genuine sense of the word – essentially a parent to every child. They are up to the task and find there is nothing more challenging – or, rewarding. They teach irreplaceable lessons that can only occur through the programming that is inherent on an RLT trip. These are lessons that come from experiences that are relevant, real and personal.
Charlie Clausner is an educator at Pahala Elementary School. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2017, and Cornell in 2013. He made his mark in the tech world, and from there he has followed a dream of teaching. We are grateful to have benefitted from his leadership on our Costa Rica: El Sendero program in 2017 and 2018. The following are some words from the perspective of just one of the many incredible leaders to whom we entrust our students each summer. Read Charlie’s “Ramblings by CMC,” to gain his perspective on the RLT experience and to better understand the type of role model we strive to provide to each student on our programs.
Ramblings by CMC on The Road Less Traveled
September 13th, 2018
The Road Less Traveled is as much an idea as it is an organization. As an idea, it encompasses the very best of adventure, travel, and safety. It’s harkening back to the famous Robert Frost poem, taking the proverbial road less traveled for many solely means to forge a new path. In the end of the poem, from what I gather, however, it does not matter which road we take but instead how we tell our courageous stories, review the wholeness of nature, treat the road and those fellow travelers upon it. We get to shape the experience on any path we take. Here on any path, we can introspectively explore nature and always seek to treat others (and ourselves) with compassion, dedication, and care. But the actual path does not matter. Even still, as an idea, the road less traveled is a path I often take and one that adventurers, explorers, and voyagers come to know well. As an organization, The Road Less Traveled encompasses much more than a thirst for new experiences.
Here, the people make the place.
They say to choose your crew first before the adventure. I am forever grateful I choose The Road Less Traveled Family for the following reasons:
Firstly, The Road Less Traveled, as you know by now, is a family run business. However, what I have come to find is that working for The Road Less Traveled ends up meaning that you become a part of the family.
Like success anywhere, success with RLT all starts at the top; to be frank, Jim and Donna Stein are straight-up incredible people. They’re kind, compassionate, forgiving, knowledgeable, and masters of their craft. They’re funny, committed, dedicated, and kindhearted. They care about the development and success of their individual staff members just as much as they care about the organization as a whole. Jim and Donna sacrifice so much for the good of The Road Less Traveled and in turn this love and commitment trickles down to ensure students have every opportunity for success on their wonderful, worldly, travel trips. It has been said and shown to me, that over the course of the summer, their full care and thoughts are out with students on every trip. Safety, both mentally and physically, for the students on RLT trips are what Jim and Donna dedicate their lives to. Not to mention, they both know how to kick the dirt and talk compassionately with anyone.
Secondarily, we step down the ladder and into the office at North Elston Court. Walking into the beautiful office you are met with equally beautiful (and always smiling) people. The employees and trainers in The Road Less Traveled office are some of the most loving, laughing, and loyal humans I have ever had the privilege to work alongside. These people, who day in and day out of every day of the year, ensure that each trip will succeed for students and RLT staff leaders. Their smiles can be felt through the phone and while working in Costa Rica for the last two years I have always gotten the information I needed from the office to ensure students’ health and wellbeing. Here too, it is important to mention the trainers of the leaders during the 10-day leader training summit in Michigan. These people (leaders of leaders really) represent the very best of the Outdoor Education field. These trainers pass on knowledge like Momma bears to their cubs – ensuring growth, safety, and success.
Thirdly, come The Road Less Traveled trip leaders, co-leaders, and interns themselves. This is by far the most amazing group of dedicated, loving, caring, athletic, friendly, goofy, sincere, thoughtful, and all-around beautiful human beings out there. RLT leaders encompass the best of humanity as they work tirelessly for social justice, for the preservation of nature, for Native rights, for cultural exchange, and for love of our world. The leaders most importantly understand that these amazing trips are nothing if either the safety or security of the students are compromised. Therefore their dedication and commitment to safety protocols is second to none. They understand too that safety and security does not solely mean physical safety with health and security. Instead, they care and develop emotional/spiritual health on these amazing yet also challenging trips around the planet. You will not find a better group of people than The Road Less Traveled leaders.
Finally, that brings us to the entire aspect of The Road Less Traveled — the students. Never in my entire career as an educator have I seen such an amazing collection of young, intelligent, diverse, caring, thoughtful, people than those that participate on RLT trips. Their maturity, love for adventure, and compassion for group growth always strike me as truly wonderful. These young people are the cream of the crop, the leaders of tomorrow, and stewards of a more just world and society. They demonstrate so much passion and dedication to service learning, to Native interactions, to cultural exchange, and to a true commitment to helping our Earth as an ecosystem. It is very clear that from the top of the organization to the bottom the students are always the number one thought in the minds’ of The Road Less Traveled. From Jim and Donna at the top to the wonderful staff members in the office, to the brilliant collection of RLT leaders, and of course, the amazing, young students on the trips, working for The Road Less Traveled the last two years has been nothing but an immense joy. I have said in my life that I like to align my name with the very best, whether it is a university, school, employer, teaching program, or an outdoor education company. I always strive to put my name alongside the names of people and organizations that I believe do the right thing and have strong morals. This is why I choose The Road Less Traveled. This organization is elite. This is a one-in-a-million company. This is why I have been so proud the last two summers to have the opportunity, privilege, and the wonderful responsibility to lead with The Road Less Traveled.
I have learned it does not matter which path or road you take in life. Also, that taking that path all depends on how you view your life and how you define your adventure. They say it’s not so much about the specific road we end up on but how we tell the stories of our lives. Even still, I always choose the road less traveled and I understand that looking back on my life I can tell that travel story as one of bravery, courage, intrepidness, and passion.
Now the question I pose to you is… will you join me on The Road Less Traveled?
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