School just ended, spring was in full bloom, and three years of high school were behind me. I could not have been more excited for my junior class trip to Costa Rica in 2006. I arrived at the airport just before 4 am to find my classmates and teachers full of energy. We had just fewer than 60 students traveling our year and were broken up into 3 groups. Having my brothers and friends participate in previous Costa Rican Adventures, I knew pieces of what to expect, their favorite spots, and guides. I quickly learned that no matter how much I heard about the trip, my experience would be far more meaningful than I ever could have imagined.
We arrived in Costa Rica and were greeted by our guides with fresh fruit and guacamole. Instantly, our group grew closer on that first bus ride, as we chose our music, laughed, and finally rested after a long day’s travel. Our guides, in particular Gretchen Ferrell (who is now a Chill Expeditions employee), made a point of sitting down with everyone to get to know a little bit about our group. She quickly learned our names and made personal connections with each individual, making us feel welcome rather than a number on the bus.
Our itinerary was packed with adventures, making each day completely different from the others. As some overcame fears such as heights, boats, and caves, our closeknit group stood behind in full support. Los Sapos Dorados, as we called ourselves, became family. We formed a connection that is indescribable to any on-looker.
On my return to the states, I thought there was no way any other group had an experience like ours. I spoke with my classmates from different groups and discovered that each group had their own unique dynamic and culture. Although we may have had different experiences, the incredible adventure at the core was the same.
Chill Expeditions has only improved since 2006. With more focus on the educational travel component, students that participate in our programs not only make tremendous friendships, but also expand their education outside of the classroom. My passion for educational travel began with my first Costa Rican Adventure and has grown tremendously. After seeing the growth and maturity of the students I have worked with, and reading our group feedbacks, it is apparent that we are making a significant impression on each of our travelers.
I may be biased in my views on Chill Expeditions now, but I am confident our travelers each have unique, incredible, experiences of their own to share, such as Kelsey Platt, a classmate and dear friend of mine from Sapos Dorados.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience that pushed you outside of your comfort zone. I have never imagined that by age 17 I would have gone caving, swum at the base of a waterfall, and seen a volcano erupt. What made the trip even more amazing was the group that I was with and the friendships that were formed during such a unique experience.”