If you're the type of person who loves adventures, meeting new people and needs to change your routine, I encourage you to go on a teen tour alone.
This summer, I went to Australia and Fiji with a program called ARCC. The trip was based around community service, cultural immersion, sightseeing and having fun. Some people may find it scary to go to a foreign country with a bunch of strangers, but I promise it is a cool experience. Our group included eighteen, 15 to 18-year-olds from different states and countries and two counselors.
We began our adventure in Sydney, Australia, where we probably looked like the most American tourists ever. We visited the Sydney opera house, Manly Beach, the ferris wheel and ate a crazy amount of gelato and Asian food!
We then traveled to Cairns where we discovered a knock-off version of Chipotle and a local sweet, Tim Tams. From there, we traveled to the Great Barrier Reef to scuba dive. I had my scuba certification, but others were able to get certified or get their advanced certificates. We saw cuttlefish, turtles, sharks and more. It was amazing to see the reef, even with its discoloration from climate change. The reef is dying thanks to people and pollution. Part of the reason I went on this trip was to see it before it's too late.
From the reef, we went to a wildlife preserve where we helped clean up and, more importantly, hung out with kangaroos. They were awesome! We also planted trees to help an endangered frog species in the mountains. We spearfished and learned how to use a didgeridoo with the local indigenous culture.
Next stop: Fiji! We learned about Fijian culture and tradition. In keeping with what we learned, we presented Kava to the chief of the village to pay respect when we arrived. We learned that saying "Bula!" is how you greet everyone. The Fijian people were so welcoming and nice, unlike our American and Western cultures! My favorite part of the trip was when we went to Nandi to prepare food for widows and single mothers and played with their kids. We worked with this amazing woman named Shalani, who changed my perspective on life. Although she does not have much, she spends all she has to help these women and children. She taught me a lesson in selflessness and generosity. I want to get back to help her out again sometime.
We then went to a Fijian village in the mountains. We crossed a river with our bags to get there, and some of us fell in! In the village, we played and interacted with the kids and made our food with fresh produce. The villagers performed songs and taught us some of their dialects.
Lastly, we went to La Luvia, which was a private island surrounded by water. We did coral propagation, beach clean-ups and had fun being in the water all day. It was hard to leave all of the great friends I made and our cool leaders. It was good to get out of my world and see the much bigger one out there. This trip changed me for the better, and I would definitely recommend it as a way to spend your summer!
Below are fantastic summer trip operators for kids. Many offer similar trips. NOTE: the popular trips sell out very quickly. Some of them also offer early bird specials: