Rising over the oceans for the first time in a steel cage with wings, I headed to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands on a youth mission trip to interact with children at an orphanage. At the ripe old age of 12, I was more intrigued by the thought of our accommodations than the mission - tents on a beach under palm trees! I mean, dream with me for a second... that's exactly what I was thinking!
Reality turned out to be slightly different. Tents pitched under poisonous trees (both the sap and fruit), the crystal clear water was on the other side of the island, and the ground moved in the wee hours of the morning from spider crabs. Needless to say, I was a bit homesick during the first few days.
This experience changed me. By the end of the trip, I was ready to stay longer. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and found the joy of travel and the privilege of entering into the stories of individuals in distant lands.
From living in France for three months to traversing the jungles of the island of Java, Indonesia in a carbon monoxide-filled Land Cruiser, I have developed an appreciation for the differences and similarities found around the world. While walking along the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, I met incredible people with huge goals - a family vacation from Mexico to Canada by foot. On a train traveling across Switzerland, I met a family from India taking their son to college with a unique perspective on the Alps. Flying from Ethiopia to Tanzania, I met a German woman that moved to Kenya to operate a hotel and a young man returning home from Dubai, where he worked in order to send money to his mother and siblings living in Kenya.
Planning trips and inviting others to join the journey began in high school, and has continued ever since to include domestic and international mission trips, group vacations, and adventure fundraising trips. In preparation for organizing adventure fundraising trips for Steep Adventures, I have added to my Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Shippensburg University and Master's degree in Leadership Studies from Lancaster Bible College, a PA limited line travel license.
Through Steep Adventures, I hope that TRAVEL becomes more than seeing sights and doing adventurous activities, but it brings about a CHANGE to social causes around the world, and enlivens the hearts of the LIVING through the reward of doing something challenging and making a difference.
Now let's go on an adventure!