Elizabeth Guyer is an Account Manager for our science programs. She recently traveled with 28 students from Colorado on their Waves and Waterfalls tour of Costa Rica where she witnessed one of the greatest benefits of travel – overcoming fears.
Travel takes you out of your comfort zone. There are language barriers, cultural differences, even different currency. For many of the students on this trip, visiting Costa Rica was their first time leaving the U.S. I expected their experiences of diversity, culture shock, and a new environment, but I ended up witnessing them face fears, support one another, and learn about teamwork while experiencing life thousands of miles away from home.
Horseback Riding to Waterfalls
Watching the students prepare for a horseback ride to the Chorerras waterfall was the beginning of their overall growth during our trip. A number of the girls were rodeo queens or lived on farms and were completely at home in the saddle, but for a few students, this activity was so worrisome they’d considered not coming to Costa Rica at all! As we stood near the mounting blocks, helmets on and ready to ride, I could see one student who was petrified of the horses in front of him. Several of his peers rallied around him, offered words of encouragement, and promised to stick by his side. He was brave enough to pat the horse on the nose but ultimately decided not to ride up with us and instead take the tractor. One of them offered to go with him so he didn’t have to ride alone.
Zip Lining through the Jungle
Zip lining was another experience in which I was proud of these students’ camaraderie and support. We had a handful of students who pushed the boundaries of their comfort zone to join us on the lines. Once you go down the first run, you’re committed to being strapped in until the end, a big deal if you’re afraid of heights as some of these students were! But once again, these students amazed me with how they encouraged and applauded their classmates for trying something new. On the last run, we had the opportunity to go upside down, and every single one of them did it. It was incredible to watch them overcome a fear and hang upside down while zipping over the canopy of the Costa Rican forest.
I love when I have the opportunity to see firsthand the impact these trips have on our students. My week in Costa Rica was nothing short of amazing, and seeing these students step out of the comfort zone and into the growth zone was incredible. They overcame fears, had unforgettable experiences, and were able to have real and authentic encounters. These trips are educational, but they offer students so much more!