We’re often asked by both parents and teens about what it’s like to join our group summer programs on your own.
The short answer: it’s an amazing, transformative, and unforgettable experience.
But there’s more to it than that.
If you’ve ever felt unsure about joining a summer program for teens on your own, here are 4 things that might help give you the push you need.
1. It’s normal to feel nervous about joining on your own
Whether you’re a parent or a teen, the first thing you should know is that any nerves you’re feeling are completely normal.
Uncertainty about being away from home for the first time and questions about group dynamics are things we discuss with families every day, not just those considering solo travel.
Every year, we watch as hesitant hellos on day one end in tearful goodbyes and lifelong friendships at the end of the program.
2. We’re experts at making all participants feel welcome
Creating the perfect summer experience for our participants takes a bit of art, a bit of science, and a lot of experience.
Over 36 summers, we’ve become experts at creating socially comfortable and welcoming environments for all of our group members, whether they’re traveling solo or with a friend.
We’ve mastered the ice-breakers and group-bonding activities, and our extensive staff training ensures that all of our staff are just as well-versed.
We’ve developed unique protocols over the years, designed specifically to get participants out of their shells and engaging with one another from the moment their adventure begins.
Our First 48-hour Plan is a great example of these protocols, where we help take away the social pressure that participants often feel during the first few days of their program through practices like random groupings for activities, meals, and transportation seating.
As a solo traveler, having these things off your mind allows you to focus on being yourself, meeting new people, and capitalizing on opportunities for personal growth.
3. Traveling solo comes with plenty of growth opportunities
All forms of travel have various benefits that can help teens learn about themselves and grow.
From developing independence to broadening global perspectives, there is a lot to gain from your summer experience whether you come on your own or with a friend.
That being said, we often see a particularly transformative effect on solo travelers in the following 2 ways.
Self-discovery. There’s something incredible about being in a safe new environment, away from the expectations of the people you grew up with. It gives you the freedom to step out of your usual social construct and truly be yourself without any worry of feeling judged. As a solo traveler, you’re able to take advantage of this more easily than anyone.
Improved social skills and new friendships. Perhaps the best thing about joining a group summer program is the opportunity it provides to meet new people and develop meaningful friendships. By joining alone, you might find it easier to make the effort and take the time to get to know everyone in your group as there’s no pressure to spend time with people you already know.
In the end, our summer programs are a chance for all participants to step out of their comfort zones, open themselves up to making new friends, and take advantage of the opportunities for personal growth.
We’ll provide plenty of support along the way to make sure your summer is truly unforgettable.
4. Independent travelers have incredible experiences every year
Enough from us. Here’s a glimpse at what some parents and teens have said about their independent travel experience with us in the past. If you want to see even more reviews and anecdotes from those who’ve traveled with us, be sure to check out our reviews.
Izzy did not know anyone in her group and she came home having made the friendships of a lifetime. She had the best summer she has ever had, experienced new places and learned much about herself and others. Loved every minute and did not want to leave!
Lisa & Todd E., Boca Raton, Florida
This trip changed my life. I came by myself scared that I wouldn’t make any friends but ended up making some of the best friends in my life. I made so many more friends and stronger connections with people than expected. Even the staff was easy to connect to.
Amber Z., V., NJ.
Wonderful experience. Everything we were told ahead of time about the benefits of AJ traveling on his own without friends was accurate. He met so many new people and developed friendships that he likely would not have done had he been traveling with established friend groups. We loved the independence of traveling and having some time alone while still under proper supervision. AJ developed close bonds with the other kids as well as the staff.
Lianne & Stephen G., Toronto, Canada
This was Jordan’s first experience away from home for a long period of time. He was nervous about going away alone. When he got to the airport, the leader had all of the kids in a circle. By the time he said goodbye to us, he already made friends. He absolutely loved everything about the trip. He loved his friends that he made and he really bonded with all of the staff. His only regret was that he didn’t stay longer. We asked him to rate the trip from 1-10 and he gave it a 10.
Kim & Steve S., Encino, California
“The thing we were most nervous about sending Shauna was that she did not know one person. However, the staff is just outstanding in getting the kids to interact with each other. The icebreakers, seating and sleeping arrangements, and the day-to-day activities, all made it seamless for her to have tons of friends on the very first day. This is our third child we’ve sent on Westcoast Connection and you guys are batting 1000. You’ve knocked this one right out of the park just like the other two.”
Evie & Scott M., Nepean, Canada
Did this article address your concerns about traveling on your own? If you’ve still got questions about traveling solo, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
If your questions have been answered, then there’s really only one thing left to do; find your summer of a lifetime.