For the last four years we have done five international expeditions. The first two were to South Africa, the third to Kenya/Tanzania, the fourth to Nepal, and our most recent was Peru. The formula for success on these trips is simple: we bring a therapist, experienced expedition staff, and peer mentors that are working a strong program. These trips are based around the idea of Voluntourism, which for us, normally involves cultural experiences, seeing places of worth, safari, trekking, and service. We try and combine history, nature, fellowship, adventure, and service all into a single experience. It should be noted that these trips are not considered a handout, in order for a student to become eligible for one of these experiences there is a considerable amount of work that he needs to do first. This is including but not limited to: reading 2-3 books on the area of interest, completing multiple essays both before and upon returning, planning and participating in various fundraising activities to help augment the cost of their own trip and for a donation to the orphanage we serve, but most importantly they must be working a strong program here at In Balance.
You can imagine the amount of risk that we as an organization accept when doing these types of trips, we will only bring the caliber of student that is appropriate. He needs to be a leader in his milieu, be current and excelling in his academic work, and living a life of recovery and integrity, so as to warrant us trusting him halfway across the world outside of ranch setting. These trips are not to be given, but to be earned.
Here is a student testimonial from our trip to Kenya/Tanzania in August:
Africa was the trip of a lifetime. It was absolutely amazing. The things that I saw and got to experience were beyond incredible. From being 8 feet away from a male lion sleeping underneath a tree in Kenya, to being on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, to falling asleep with a little boy from the orphanage on my chest under a tree. These are just some of the many wonderful things that I got to enjoy while I was there. If it were not for the support I received from In Balance and my parents, I would have never been able to experience this.
Africa was a life altering trip. Something inside me changed upon returning to the United States. I was, and am, filled with an immense amount of gratitude. I discovered that I took the small things in life for granted. Small things such as water pressure in the shower, toilets and toilet paper, quality meat, a washer and dryer, and safe drinking water. All of these are normal parts of our daily living that we tend to forget about through the busy lives that so many of us lead. However,when we stop to think about what we have compared to others, and the lives that we are so blessed to live, we then understand and acknowledge how fortunate we really are.
This trip offered by In Balance helped open my eyes through firsthand experience, transform my values and beliefs for the better, as well as expand my perspective of the world we live in. In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone that is a part of the In Balance team from the bottom of my heart for everything that they have done to make this experience and prospect a reality for me.