Epic Trip 2018
Senior year is full of “lasts”, but the Epic trip counteracts that and provides every senior with at least one “first” experience. The Epic trip is a five day journey led by Liz and Jack Gritter, Mama and Papa G, and Bud Abt. They take high school seniors, who have participated in senior life prep, on a trip around the United States. The mystery of the trip is that we, as students, have no idea where we are going or what we are doing. We only know who we are going with and that at some point, the vans will have to stop because somebody always needs to use the restroom.
I remember about two hours into the trip Mama G asked the occupants of our van, “Where do you think we are going, guys?” My answer was “Well, Georgia, Mama G, because we’re driving, and that’s just the way the world works.” We did indeed drive to Georgia, specifically, Atlanta, where we spent the day doing service for a single mother restoring parts of her home. For many students it was the first time tearing out a bathroom in order to redo it. We cut down huge vines, and dug a ditch in her yard to drain the rain water.
The next day, I think every student experienced a first by touring a predominantly women’s college, Brenau. One senior, Bailey McDonald, ended up applying to Brenau and she got accepted!
After our tour, we drove to North Carolina. Our vans were full of excitement as we pulled up to the Cataloochee Ski Area. While snowboarding was not a “first” for me, I had a blast teaching some of my friends how to get down the slopes and remembering to stop at the end.
Next, we drove to Chattanooga, TN, for team bonding activities where we learned how to depend on each other.
None of us knew what to expect in Alabama, our fourth state, when the Gritters told us to dress very messy and very warm, but we all had a “first” experience there. We were driven to the middle of nowhere and told to only take our sleeping bags and pillows and to board a refashioned military truck. We were led to the beginning of a nighttime cave hike. I went into the hike terrified because I’m afraid of the dark, and I was totally out of my comfort zone. But in the end, we came out with a dead headlamp and a new appreciation for the friends around us.
The next two days we went ziplining and whitewater rafting, “first” experiences for many of us. These adventures showed us even more our need for community and support, whether it was our fear of walking across a tightrope, or the need to row in perfect harmony to do a trick on the rapids. But even with all these new, “first” experiences, I think the most impactful time of the trip was the last night.
After a group discussion with Papa G and some solo reflection time, we realized that even though we thought we were including others and having a fun time on the trip, in reality we were ignoring people’s feelings and closing groups off to some. While our experiences taught us to be open-minded to the new situations we were in, we had closed our minds from the new people that we did not talk to on a regular basis or go to school with. I think that’s a big piece of what Epic is about, experiencing people in a new way while also participating is new activities for the first time with these people.
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