A World of Destinations

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This Girl Scout participated in three Destinations, increasing her love of adventure along the way! And her love of food adventures (spoiler: fried crickets!)

Massachusetts, Germany, Mexico

A World of Destinations

Caroline S. is a Girl Scout Ambassador with Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. We asked her to tell us about her Destinations experiences, and for some advice for girls who are thinking about travel...

What Destinations have you participated in?

2015: Whales, Tales, and Trails. We spent over a week at Endicott college on the north shore of Massachusetts. We did activities based on the three parts of the title, which were all inspired by Massachusetts history. For “whales”, we swam in the ocean, took a schooner ride, and went on a whale watch, which was especially cool because we got to see some rare whale behavior and even a shark. For “Tales”, local authors Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kristine Carlson Asselin, and Edith Maxwell gave us writing and storytelling workshops, and we visited the historical Alcott house and House of Seven Gables. For “Trails”, we toured Boston and Salem, and visited many historical sites around Eastern Mass., my favorite of them being the Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company, the oldest candy company in the US!
2016: Germany - Castles in the Sky. We started our tour in Munich, and went from there to Rothenburg, to Garmisch, then lastly to Salzburg, Austria, before heading back home. Some highlights were seeing Neuschwanstein, the castle that was Walt Disney’s inspiration for his movies, and riding a cable car up the tallest mountain in Germany-- Zugspitze. We had private tour guides show us around several museums, and had a lot of free time to explore and shop in all of the different cities. I also was lucky enough to experience the German dish “spaghetti eis” which is noodle-shaped ice cream topped with strawberry sauce and whipped cream.
2017: Art of Mexico. The first few days were spent in Mexico City, where we stayed at the Ticalli house girl guide hostel. We saw historical cathedrals, Mayan ruins at Teotihuacan, Xochimilco “the floating market”, and Frida Kahlo’s house. Then, we traveled to the Girl Scout World Center, Our Cabana, in Cuernavaca to stay with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from England, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, Curacao, Canada, and even other groups from the US. We went waterfall jumping, explored craft markets, and participated in a service project: leading crafts for children from a local orphanage. It was my first time meeting Girl Scouts/Girl Guides from different countries, and it was so fun to have a traditional campfire with songs in English and Spanish.

How did you find out about Destinations, and what inspired you to apply?

My troop leader was on the planning committee for the first Destination I went on, as it was hosted by my own council. I was invited by the committee to give feedback as a teen-member during the planning process, and I applied because I was interested in all of the activities we were planning. It was really cool getting to spend time with lots of other girls, being a tourist in my home state and making new friends. I enjoyed my experience so much that I decided to apply to international trips the next year.

What advice would you give Girl Scouts who are thinking about going on a Destination?

Don’t be shy! Be ready to try new activities and foods every day. Talk to everyone in your group and make a bunch of new friends. These trips are for having fun, new travel experiences without your parents, so feel free to explore. Part of what makes a Destination trip so unique is that you are with a group of Girl Scouts who have the same interests and sense of adventure that you have, and that you are all meeting each other for the first time. All of my groups have been very diverse with people from all over the US, and it’s so special to be able to talk to people about their different regional cultures and expand your social network around the country.

How was traveling with Girl Scouts different from traveling with your family or your school?

When I travel with Girl Scouts, I always find myself to be more willing to try new things than I am with my family. My parents probably would have warned against eating fried crickets if they had been with me in Mexico, but with my group, several of us decided to give them a try (crunchy and salty, kind of like popcorn). When my family goes on trips, we always do activities that relate to what our family collectively likes, but that has never included things like waterfall-jumping or the Salem Witch Museum. As a small to medium sized group of teenagers, we are able to do a lot of things that you wouldn’t with your family, like staying at the Girl Scout World Centers. With a school trip, you have to stick to curriculum-related activities, but with the Girl Scouts, some of the activities are decided by us on the fly, and it is all about what you are interested by in what trip you choose. Every trip has a theme, and everyone who goes has some interest in that theme, so it will never be like a trip where teachers are dragging kids around a museum whether they’re excited or not.

As an experienced traveler, do you have any insider tips you would like to share?

Research Research Research! Know what the weather is going to be like when you go, what kind of food do natives eat, what people typically wear where you’re going, how to say hello in the native language, and especially in the case of international trips, what the drinking water and bathrooms are like. I had the advantage of knowing a lot about modern German culture from my German language class in school, so I knew a lot about what foods I was excited to try and how the typical meal times differ from ours. In Mexico, I had to do more independent research about the places where I would visit, and I had to plan for the fact that it is not safe for Americans to drink the tap water in Mexico. Mexico also has brighter sun and a more conservative culture than where I live, so I had to pack clothes to accommodate this, like longer shorts. If you’re going somewhere in the US, it’s less necessary to research the language and culture, but still nice to know some fun facts about the area where you’re headed.

What have you learned from your Destinations travel experiences?

I learned that I am much better at meeting new people than I previously thought. In middle school, I was more shy and private. When I started going on Destinations in high school, I found that it was surprisingly easy to connect with new people. I could go up to anyone and have a conversation, something I was too self-conscious about to do at my school. It can be hard trying to connect with new people in your home community, especially if you see the same people every day. I can tell that these experiences are going to help me so much when I go to college in the fall, because I’ve been getting used to leaving my comfort zone and making friends wherever I go.