-Article by Stacey Tompkins, MA
Watching your teenage daughter hop out of the nest and stride off to explore the unknown can be unsettling for a parent. Whether it’s a new job, a beloved camp or a first Prom, the best-case scenario includes long hugs and fingers crossed for meaningful, positive outcomes. Launching a child is scary, but it can also be super exciting. With The Traveling School (TTS) a parent can feel confident their daughter will have safe, mind expanding and heart opening experiences while also gaining practical skills for navigating the world.
I recently said “adios” to my girl, since she is presently spending a semester in South America with TTS. Her journey will include exploring Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands, Peru and Bolivia along with fifteen other young women from all over the US, plus four experienced teachers. They’ll do a homestay with a Quechua family, a community service project, interviews and workshops with locals, treks in the Andes, a rafting trip down a tributary of the Amazon River and much more. All the while they’ll earn high school credit because TTS is an accredited program based out of Bozeman, Montana.
In late March seven moms, two courageous dads, and one adventuresome sister headed to Peru, where we joyously reunited with our girls in the colonial city of Cuzco. There we heard raucous tales, shared exotic meals, and wandered arm in arm through artisan markets. Eventually, we loaded onto a bus and headed toward the mighty Urubamba River to begin the 26-mile trek along the stone-lined Inca Trail.
“BAM!” said one of the girls, “When someone says BAM, it means Beauty Appreciation Moment, which signals that we should stop and absorb whatever beauty is around us” she explained to the unenlightened newcomers. We stopped to take in the river raging through the impossibly steep valley, a luminescent green hummingbird sipping nectar from trumpet flowers, the miracles of stone masonry in the ruins, or the palpable kindness of the people in our group. For me, the entire trip was one big BAM.