Alumni Spotlight: Major League Madness 4X Trip Member Brandon

While we’re pretty used to having repeat trip members summer after summer, we’ve never seen someone with a passion for a program like Brandon. He’s traveled with us 4 times on our Major League Madness Baseball program and has shared with us what it was that just kept bringing him back. Check out our interview with this seasoned alumni on his most prized autograph, memorable moments and the time the group brought a Yankee tradition to Milwaukee!

1. Who’s the best player you ever got an autograph from on all of your 4 trips?

While watching the Washington Nationals take batting practice at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, I was lucky enough to obtain young phenom Stephen Strasburg’s autograph during his rookie season! He is now one of the best pitchers in baseball!

2. What’s your favorite stadium that you visited and why?

Definitely PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The backdrop of the ballpark, which includes the Allegheny River, the Pittsburgh skyline, and the Roberto Clemente Bridge, is breathtaking and picturesque. I also enjoyed visiting Wrigley Field because of its unique neighborhood setting.

3. Our Major League Madness Tour balances a ton of adventure activity highlights alongside baseball games. What was your favorite activity outside of the stadium and why?

Riding over 16 roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park. I am a thrill-seeker; so enjoying a plethora of awesome and crazy rides such as the Top Thrill Dragster, one of the fastest in the nation, was tons of fun!

4. Tell us about your best memory from these
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Alumni Spotlight: How I Started A Not-For-Profit

Name(s): Emma Z. and Madison B. Age: 16 Hometown: Sharon, Massachusetts WCC/360° Program Attended: Pre­-College Enrichment Florence

1. Tell us about OINK Charities and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

We founded OINK Charities to make it easy for kids to help those less fortunate through the gift of giving. As the youngest of five grandchildren, Emma grew up celebrating the holidays each December with her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. We would get together to celebrate the holidays, reconnect and of course… exchange presents. But the adults noticed that the presents were becoming too important to the kids, so when Emma was three, her mother and aunts started a family group called OINK, The Organization For Inspired and Nice Kids. The five grandchildren were tasked with choosing a charity they wanted to support. The children took turns explaining why they chose their specific charity and then in lieu of their big holiday gift, the adults would donate money to each of the kids’ chosen charities. It gave the children a sense of what it means to give, rather than receive, which felt good. As the older kids in the family left for college and moved across the country, the OINK tradition became a thing of the past. But now, we have decided to resurrect OINK and introduce the concept throughout the neighborhood and beyond.

Another facet of the charity is called Band-Aids For Boo­Boos. When our friend Rachel, who is a pediatric oncology nurse, heard what we were planning to do with OINK, she suggested a
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Best Job In The World: Sam H.

Name: Samantha H. Nickname: Sam Occupation: High School Physical Ed and Science Teacher Years working for WCC/360°: 7

Where can we find you when you’re not working? I love taking our dog Bailey out for long walks or runs. It’s a great time for me to take a break from work and get some exercise. In the middle of the winter, it can be a little chilly though.

What’s your favorite place to travel and why? I can’t say I have a favorite place to travel but I especially enjoyed the Galapagos Islands and Australia because I loved how close you could get to the wildlife.

Runners or flip-flops? Runners. I teach phys ed so I wear them every day.

Ocean or pool? Honestly, my favorite would be a lake. It reminds me of getting away to a cottage where everything is quiet.

Favorite WCC/360 activity? Every trip I’ve been on has whitewater rafting and it’s always a highlight. Something about being on a boat with no cellphones or distractions is very calming for me.

The one item you always pack and never use is: A hairbrush!

The item you always wished you packed and would always use is: A pair of sweatpants.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you? Jennifer Lawrence?? Maybe. She’s kind of quirky, like me ☺

My hidden talent is: not really hidden, but learned from travelling so much. I can fall asleep anywhere!

To have the best job in the world, you really need the best people in the world. Think you got
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Our Very Own Superbowl Sunday Celeb

Alumni celebrity in the house! If you were on our California & the Canyons program in 2005, then you definitely remember Harley Morenstein. Harley is the main man behind Epic Mealtime, the offbeat and overly gluttonous culinary show that showcases colossal dishes like deep fried Mac & Cheese cake and Korean BBQ sushi. We like to think the inspiration for his Campfire Pizza was thought up on our program. His show has upwards of 6 million viewers and has hosted guest celebrities like James Franco, Seth Rogen and Arnold Schwartzenegger. This weekend, Harley will be featured in the Superbowl YouTube half-time show which will compete against Katy Perry’s live half-time performance.

Some of you may remember Harley’s older brother, Darren or “Dersh”, 9-year veteran Trip Director of Westcoast Connection / 360° Student Travel famedom. Between 2001-2008 Dersh directed the California & the Canyons, American Voyageur, On Tour European Experience, Eastcoast Encounter and Major League Madness!

Food, friends and football? What’s not to love?! Maybe if this post gets enough love we can convince Harley and the Epic Meal Time crew to visit a campsite near you this summer! Check out the article here and have an awesome Superbowl.

The Westcoast Blogger


Best Job In The World: Laura A.

Name: Laura A. Nickname: Brose Occupation: Instructional Coach (I help teachers become better teachers) Years working for WCC/360°: 4

Where can we find you when you’re not working? On the tennis court or at the dog pound.

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon? Hiking the Appalachian Trail

What’s your favorite place to travel and why? Anywhere I haven’t been!

Best travel memory? Last summer on the Florence Pre-College Enrichment program we discovered a cafe with the best pancakes EVER, not pasta, and then strolled through the streets of Florence laughing and singing.

If someone dumped out your bag right now, what would they find? Gummy bears, at least one pair of sunglasses, dog treats, flips flops, and a mini bottle of Tabasco hot sauce.

You’re stranded on a deserted island… What are the 3 things you bring with you? Bob Marley’s Legend album, my dog, and a fishing pole.

Runners or flip-flops? Flip Flops (obviously, see below pic)

Favorite WCC/360 activity? Playing Ninja on paddle boards!

The one item you always pack and never use is: A travel guide haha.

The item you always wished you’d of packed and would always use is: Zip-loc bags

Funniest thing a trip member has ever asked you? “Can I drive the bus?”

What is the last book you read? Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My weirdest phobia is: Opossums absolutely terrify me.

My hidden talent is: Baking pies. I won first place in a baking contest for my Dutch apple crumble pie and had my name on the town’s welcome sign.

Favorite quote? “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

To have the best job in the
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Just 30 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers Report

For some of us up in Northern climes it’s hard to realize that spring training is just around the corner; in just 30 short days pitchers & catchers will begin reporting to their clubs in Florida and Arizona to start the process to be in game shape for another great season. And what a season we have coming up, here are some of the more interesting stories going on around the league:

• For all participants on Major League Madness, this is the first year in their LIVES that Derek Jeter won’t be donning the pinstripes and taking his familiar position at Short Stop. Even for this Blue Jay fan blogger, it’s going to be different not having The Captain leading the way for the Yanks.

• The Milwaukee Brewers are kicking off a strange promotion: The Timeless Ticket. For only $1,000 you are guaranteed a single seat to ten future Brewers games. From home openers, to game seven of the World Series, to that Wednesday afternoon game in August that you simply MUST attend…

• Some of the “timeless” elements of baseball may be disappearing in 2015. A committee has made recommendations for the following changes which will be tried out by select non-Major League teams at some point this season. There is no commitment to adopt these proposals, only to try them out. The recommendations include:

o Hitters must keep one foot inside the batter’s box at all times barring exceptions like foul balls, wild pitches or if the umpire grants him
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Best Job In The World: Danny S.

Name: Danny S. Nickname: DSchizzle Occupation: Math teacher at a boarding school in Switzerland Years working for WCC/360°: 2015 will be my 11th summer

What’s your favorite place to travel and why? I have been to Nepal several times over the previous years and it’s so alive with colors, tastes, smells, giant mountains, and wonderful people. I also love Costa Rica and Switzerland, of course!

Best travel memory? Trips to national parks in the Western U.S. with my family when I was young cemented a love for the outdoors and travel for me from a young age.

If someone dumped out your bag right now, what would they find? My must have travel items are: my razor scooter or Penny board, a trucker hat, a pair of sunglasses, my camera, passport, and journal.

Winter or summer? Honestly, I’m a summer boy for life: long days of sunshine, living out of my backpack, strange foods, new languages, new friends.

Runners or flip-flops? I feel like the expected answer is flip-flops, however I love to be on the move when traveling, and runners are much more versatile. I love going on runs in new countries!

Funniest thing a trip member has ever asked you? In the Galapagos Islands, my group straightened my hair. It was not a pretty sight.

My weirdest phobia is: I don’t own a cell phone and I am allergic to both chocolate and caffeine.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you? I think Andy Samberg could do me justice.

Best ever WCC/360 memory: Honestly 10
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Discover Portugal

Let us open your eyes to all that Portugal has to offer on our enriching Backpack Spain & Portugal trip; one of over 30 incredible programs offered in Europe this summer. The cool infograph below will help to wrap your head around the basics but if you just can’t wait, check out the trip page for all the details or give us a call. We can’t wait to discuss it with you!

- The Westcoast Blogger

#CampTShirtDay 2014

On Tuesday November 18th campers, parents, staff and alumni will wear their favorite camp gear and submit photos on Twitter, Facebook and for the first time…Instagram! After the 2013 campaign exceeded expectations with 10,000 + participants and two hours of trending nationwide on twitter — CRAZE Interactive–Camp Craze is estimating 15,000-20,000 participants this year!

International Camp T-Shirt Day helped to raise $3,000 towards Sandy Relief in 2012 and $6,380 supporting SCOPE (Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education) in 2013 and in 2014 – CRAZE will be opening up fundraising and support to participants.

“We love Camp T-Shirt Day and what the event has done for camps across the nation” said David Goldberg of CRAZE Interactive–Camp Craze. “It all started with the simple idea of having campers, staff and alumni wearing their favorite camp gear and sharing their camp pride and spirit on social media; it really has turned into a world-wide holiday which really shows the power of camp!”

CRAZE released a few changes to #CampTShirtDay on Tuesday which allow participants to contribute to causes they care about. “Camp T-Shirt Day is really about a love for camp; but it has turned into a charitable event that more and more people want to be a part of each year” said Mr. Goldberg.

CRAZE hopes this move extends the message to get behind causes we care about; particularly our campers. Each year we find that even the smallest of participants can make a difference and it’s a powerful message that CRAZE hopes can rally even more people
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Community Service Series: Hola, South & Central America!

This past summer, 360° students proudly completed 33,068.5 hours across all of our dedicated Community Service programs, which is the equivalent of 3.8 years! This first instalment of our summer 2014 Community Service blogs will focus on our visits to South and Central America. Here is just a small glimpse into some of the life-changing experiences we had during our time in these regions.

Costa Rica

With the help of the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation, travelers worked with youth in La Carpio, “The Village of Hope” teaching English classes, doing art projects, and playing soccer with the kids. While taking part in beautification projects in the village, a group of 360° students noticed a large hole in a local woman’s home. The group actively coordinated with supervisors to acquire building materials, and was able to erect a new wall in its place.

In Monteverde, travelers worked with coffee co-ops in the community planting rice and beans, while other groups lent a hand on the hillside planting trees to prevent erosion of the mountain. In the poverty stricken town of Flamingo, groups took a three day long stay and spent time with families in need. In one instance, an elderly widow and mother of three, was brought to tears after seeing how a group had painted her neighborhood in lively, bright colors, rejuvenating the spirit of the local culture. For these underprivileged residents, even the smallest of gestures can go a long way in the community’s overall wellness and quality of life.


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