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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Off to a GREAT Start! -California & the Canyons

Hi Parents!

Lauren was the first person to land in San Francisco Airport and was greeted by the trip leaders. She was SUPER helpful in assisting the staff in getting snacks organized and creating posters to welcome the rest of the group at the airport. As all of the 38 trip members came trickling in from all over the US and Canada, we received many compliments on how well behaved our group is, including the 29 students who flew with Priya and Jill on the group flight from JFK!

The first night in San Francisco consisted of riding a cable car to Chinatown where we ate dinner family style in a restaurant in our small staff groups so we could get to know each other better. Everyone in Princess Priya’s group knew each other’s name, favorite hobbies, and other fun facts about each other before we even finished dinner! The group dynamics have been great from day 1. It was so great seeing the trip members come out of their shell and embrace making new friends and new memories so quickly. We can tell this is going to be a trip to remember!

The next morning was packed with sightseeing, which started with a boat cruise and audio tour through Alcatraz. When we went to Pier 39, the weather was amazing. During the free time, the trip members spent time enjoying the scenery and tasting new foods. Sammie even bought a loaf of sourdough bread in the shape of a teddy-bear from Boudin (home of the famous San Francisco Clam Chowder). We then walked to Ghirardelli Square, where many trip members chose to taste a rich chocolate milkshake, which was perfect to enjoy in the sunny weather.

In the evening, we went to watch the Oakland A’s play against the St. Louis Cardinals. Before the baseball game, when the commentators were doing the pre-game show on ESPN, Adam, Ed, Daniel, Harrison, Andres, Jon and some of the girls were able to make a special appearance on TV! They were holding up posters and wearing free A’s hats and scarves to show the team spirit at the ball game!

At the start of Day 3, we learned some cool facts about the Golden Gate Bridge while we were on our way to see it. We then proceeded to walk across part of the bridge. We took many great group photos on the Golden Gate overlooking Alcatraz with the city in the background.

We spent the afternoon in the small town of Sausalito playing a game of Trade-Up. In this game, the trip members were split up into small groups and each given a pen. Throughout the afternoon, they were asked to use a barter system with people in different shops to see who could come back with the coolest and most valuable prize. For example, Eddie, Josh, Daniel, and Samantha B. started with: a pen, then traded it for an American flag keychain which was then exchanged for a San Francisco 49’s bracelet which was converted into a Heart keychain with shells inside of it and ended off with an elephant decorative piece.  They then went to a jewelry store and were going to trade the elephant for charm, but the manager was so impressed with their trades that he told them they could keep it and receive a free charm. They received more kindness at an art gallery, who gave the group 3 paintings. One group came back with a giant puppet of a Bob-the-Builder like construction worker, which they received by trading in a signed picture of famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky. Needless to say, everyone ended up coming back with so many unique prizes from the start of just a simple pen!

After dinner, we went bowling, where trip leader Dan held the highest record of gutter balls thrown in one game! Trip leader Adam avenged him by bowling a superb “Strike! Strike! Strike!”  Other trip members such as Jon and Scott rolled multiple strikes and topped off with awesome bowling scores.

Overall, the trip members are really excited about the upcoming journeys ahead and love the new friends they are making.

-The Westcoast Blogger

California and the Canyons- Alcatraz Island