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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Fun in the Sun at Niagara Falls – U.S. Explorer

The US Explorer checks in from Cleveland.

We can’t believe we are already a week into our awesome adventure – it feels like we’ve known each other for years!  After loading the bus and saying goodbye to our parents, we set out nervous and excited.  We played bus “speed dating” to get to know everyone better and by time we stopped for lunch, we had lots of new friends to hang out with.

After a delicious dinner, Cort-Lanes Bowling Alley opened just for us.  Charlie improved his personal score and broke 100!  He and Jordan Fo. taught Ben how to bowl while Alex G. also taught Karen some tips for getting a strike.

The next morning we set out on a challenging and fun day for everyone at the Cornell Ropes Course.  None of us knew what was in store, but we went into it enthusiastically.  In the morning we helped one another problem-solve to achieve different goals such as balancing on a life-size seesaw, scaling a huge wall, and guiding one another across a tight rope blindfolded.  After a delectable lunch, we got to push our limits and face our personal fears on the high ropes course.  Even though she was so scared, Haley S. attempted the cat walk – a balance beam high in the air – with lots of encouragement from her new friends.  We climbed the rock wall alongside a tower leading to the “King Swing” – a swing made from ropes and suspended between the tower and two trees – or to the Zip Line that took you from one side of the ropes course to the other.  David E. was the first person to brave the “King Swing” and said “it was awesome!” Jen G. did some flips on the “King Swing”, showing off her impressive skills.  Jill S. flew like Superwoman down the Zip Line followed by Jason and Daniel Z. showing their moves, flipping in mid-air.  The ropes course was an exciting challenge we tackled, pushing ourselves to new limits and working together to create better friendships.

Our next challenge was putting up tents at our first camp site in Niagara Falls.  We met our wonderful Westcoast Connection campsite manager, Lance, over the border at the Niagara KOA and got a crash course in tent-building.  Although many of us had never done this before, we worked together and set up all our tents in record time!  We then all worked together to cook a scrumptious meal with the help of Lance and Mike, our food director. That night we celebrated Canada Day by heading into downtown Niagara to see the fireworks over the falls.  Talk about beautiful!

The next morning we set up a “make-your-own” pancake bar where Cat and Lance flipped and filled our pancakes for us; they were delicious!  Then we headed to the falls to ride The Maid of the Mist.  We got soaked on the top deck of the boat – good thing we had our attractive blue ponchos to keep our clothes dry.  We didn’t stay dry for long though because after lunch our next stop was Jet Boating!  We changed into our bathing suits, put on our life jackets, and climbed onto the jet boat with our tour guide, Colin.  Grant, Cobi, Jordan Fr.  and Josh A. all sat in the front row of the boat as we went through Class 3 white-water rapids spilling water onto our foreheads, and loving every minute of it!  Cobi even commented, “this is one of my favorite days!”

After a yummy stir-fry dinner cooked by our trip members under the direction of Mike and Lance, Lauren and Catherine led us in a “Crazy Canadian Quest” scavenger hunt.  The items revolved around Canadian food, sports teams, and the like – we even had to find a polar bear!  Our students were extremely creative and the winning team brought back a puppy as their “something with fur” – we were all quite impressed!  Then we hung out by the fire and made s’mores – yum!

The next morning we headed back into the USA to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Two of the popular exhibits were Lady Gaga’s meat dress and The Beatles exhibit.  That night, in honor of visiting one of the most popular rock halls in the nation, we had our own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony – Westcoast Style!  Justin, our Trip Director, hosted the event and our travelers performed a superb combination of a song and dance for the leaders as judges by the campfire.  Charlie helped his team win with his “Dancing with the Stars”-worthy dance moves!  We headed to bed looking forward to Cedar Point Amusement Park!

After a quick breakfast – we are all so excited to experience the best thrill ride park in the world!  Not only was it a gorgeous day, but many of us pushed to new limits, going on the second fastest roller coaster in the world called Dragster.  At 120mph, it shoots straight up 700ft in the air and straight back down.  It was so much fun!  We also ventured on many others filled with flips, corkscrews, and lots of speed.  Even those who didn’t ride a coaster had a fantastic day.  Jacob L., Josh A., David A., and many others all played carnival games throughout the day and won lots of prizes: 7 stuffed animals, 3 basketballs, and 2 hats to be exact.  Isabella also showed off her salsa skills and danced with the “Johnny Rockets” employees.  Everyone loved it!  At the end of our day, we spread out on the grassy knoll outside the amusement park and celebrated the wonderful country we live in.  The Cedar Point 4th of July fireworks were some of the best we’ve ever seen – Sydney K. said, “the finale was so beautiful!”  Pumped up from a long day of excitement, we went back to camp and tried to unwind in our tents – it was so hard!

The Westcoast Blogger