If someone were to ask me what was the most life changing experience of my adolescent life, I would have to say, “the trips that I took at seventeen years of age.”
I wasn’t super adventurous or independent growing up. I was raised in a very conservative, Christian home, and attended Christian schools through my senior year. I didn’t do some things my peers did-date in high school, go to concerts, or play team sports. However, I did participate in two touring choirs-one through my school and the other through my church.
My church had a Christian patriotic themed choir called Freedom’s Song, and I was fortunate to participate in it for 2 years.
When I joined Freedom’s Song, it was the BIG tour year! A five-week-long tour across the country! I had never been away from home that long-let alone one-week LOL!
I wondered if my parents would let me go LOL! I worried about getting homesick. It was going to be the furthest I had ever been away from home, and I was going to miss the first day back to school (my senior year).
Surprisingly, they did let me go—I think for a few reasons…
First, I know they supported the values conveyed in our concerts. Second, they COMPLETELY trusted the adult supervisors. Third, they trusted me.
I’ll never forget the morning of our departure. The emotional goodbyes…
Me and my mom
The massive pile of Caboodles stacked as a pyramid outside our tour bus.
(I actually think this pic was taken during my second Freedom’s Song tour, but it is the same bus we used during our first tour.)
Once we settled into our seats, we all shared what we had brought to occupy our time. We were going to be on the bus for HOURS at a time to make our VERY long trek to Southern CA, through the South, and then to Washington DC, and then back home! According to the itinerary, destinations in 16 states!
Besides our own walkmans, books, travel games, a tour journal circulated. Each choir member took turns documenting our daily adventures. (After tour, the journal was printed and copied for each member; I still have mine.)
I remember the excitement when we arrived at the city’s/town’s church we were going to perform. (I still have one of our programs.)
We were assigned the families we would be staying with for the evening. The girls always hoped host families had cute boys in them; and I’m sure our male counterparts hoped for cute girls.
Some highlights from our trip in no particular order…
*The camaraderie among our team members, which included choir members, our choir director, our senior pastor and his family, and our chaperones.
*Traveling across country and observing what life was like in other regions.
*Witnessing our audience moved by our message of salvation and patriotism.
*Touring the Roy Rogers Museum. (Yes, Roy had his beloved Trigger stuffed. Here he is in all his glory!)
*Singing at the First Baptist Church of Dallas’ Sunday morning service, which was televised live. (This church has the largest pipe organ that I have ever seen!)
*Seeing the Kennedy Space Center.
*Checking out Epcot Center.
*Exploring St. Augustine, Florida,” the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States” (per Wikipedia).
*Performing at the Pentagon, and the Admiral of the Navy happening to stop by for a listen. (I really wish I had a picture of this!)
*Perusing the Smithsonian’s and memorials in Washington D.C.
*Exploring Arlington National Cemetery and the Battlefield of Gettysburg.
*Exploring THE Jamestown Settlement and colonial Williamsburg.
(I’m sure I’m leaving some things out! I’ve had to refer to our tour journal to refresh my memory as it was 26 years ago LOL!)
***When we returned home, we performed a concert at our church, concluding our tour. We shared the amazing things God did within our lives and the lives of those we encountered on tour. I just can’t explain how moving this whole experience was and life changing…
About a month and a half later, I was very fortunate to return to Washington DC for my senior trip. This time, we had a bit more time to explore historical sites: a tour of the White House, exploration of all the Smithsonian’s (except the Art one LOL), the National Cathedral, the National Archives, and the FBI building, and sooooo much more! Some of the sites I had visited a month and a half prior on Freedom’s Song tour, but I still loved it. Sometimes you see things a second time that you missed the first time….
My graduating class and Abraham Lincoln impersonator at Gettysburg.
My love for American History was ignited on these trips. While in college, I would change my major multiple times, but ultimately returned to my original choice, History, which lead to a career in education.
I am a huge proponent of adolescents traveling. (Of course, travel that is age appropriate and supervised by adults.) As a teacher, I often hear of children who have only been an hour or so away from home. I understand that is often due to finances. However, if it is at all possible, children should be provided opportunities to broaden their world view. I’ll be the first to admit-we live in a different world, but we shouldn’t let fear keep us from adventuring! I hope this inspires you to do just that!