Journey to Mars

YOU WILL VISIT Mars & the Moon

TRIP SUMMARY Space Shuttle, NASA International Space Station Accommodations, Small Group Adventure

Enjoy an “out of this world” experience on this incredible program. Travel through the galaxy to be immersed in space, exploring our solar system and all that surrounds us. This small group experience allows us to dig deep into the atmosphere and maintain a zero-gravity adventure like never before. Ride around on the Mars Rover, rock climb along the coast and slide down the unbelievable sand dunes. Witness the double moons, enjoy a floating meal and take in the scenery below. You’re in for a cosmic exploration you’ll never forget!


The Westcoast Blogger

Best Job In The World: Sara L.

Name: Sara L Nickname: Sas, Sarbear, or Susie Occupation: Intervention Specialist; Special Education math teacher Years working for WCC/360°: Summer 2015 will be my fourth summer!

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon? During football season- at the Browns game!!! Any other time, either relaxing with my puppies, watching a movie, or baking some dessert. I also love taking weekend trips to visit friends or just to get away.

What’s your favorite place to travel and why? Somewhere I have never been; I love exploring new places and see the different cultures throughout the world. However, my favorite place is Sedona, Arizona. I love the scenery and different views when hiking!

If someone dumped out your bag right now, what would they find? Well, you would definitely see how silly organized I am! I have a bag full of pens/markers/pencils/teaching things, lip gloss, hand sanitizer, Advil (all those essentials) and my planner!

You’re stranded on a deserted island… What are the 3 things you bring with you and why? Tough question… One- Planner/pens- I have to write down what I do all day! Two- matches- this will be used for light and heat (I’m always cold) and Three- Something to hold/purify water- I’m always thirsty!

Ocean or pool? Love the ocean, sand and waves!

Favorite WCC/360° activity? Hiking! Even though sometimes it makes me feel out of shape, I love exploring!

The one item you always pack and never use is: What feels like 200 t-shirts when I really wear three.

The item you always wished you’d of packed and would always use is: A
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Our First Day of Service – Lending a hand in La Carpio

Yesterday was our first day of community service, and we loved it!

Our day was packed full of projects: painting, construction, and spending time with local children. After being introduced to the community of La Carpio and the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, as well as the work we were going to do that day by community leader, Gail Nystrom, we all felt very connected to the experience before us. Rachel’s artwork completed a freshly painted front wall of a woman’s house, and the woman couldn’t have been happier or more proud of her home’s spruced up look! Saeree and Evan worked on their construction skills, as they helped build a wall in a two-family home so that each family could have some privacy. While playing with and teaching local children, SJ, Allie, and Justin learned that, despite a language barrier, their presence could brighten the kids’ days and make them smile!

We ended the day with a poolside Latin dance class and lots of laughs. It’s been a long and meaningful day and everyone is looking forward to day two of community service today!

The Westcoast Blogger

Kicking Off Spring Break!

Pura Vida from Community Service Spring Break 2015! Can you believe day 1 has already come and gone? We began at airports all across the country, from San Francisco to New York. We all met up at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, where we were able to taste local fruits right away. We boarded the bus, and were off to our hotel in Central Valley. Along the way, we stopped to pick up some essentials: Sal and Chris found various flavors of Oreo cookies, and Amy and Justin picked out gifts to bring to community service. We then headed to the hotel to play some name games and ice breakers. There were lots of laughs as the trip members detangled a 13 person human knot. Our evening ended with a typical dinner at a local restaurant, where we tasted yucca and had our fill of rice and beans. Griffin especially liked the rice pudding, and offered to help out fellow trip members who were too full to eat theirs. Everyone was ready to call it a night early in order to prepare for a great day of rafting tomorrow!

Talk to you soon!

The Westcoast Blogger

Interview: Trip Director Brandon Steinmetz Dishes on North American Cuisine

1. What’s the dish/meal you look forward to most when you visit a campground?

BBQ night – it may not be complicated, but nothing beats hanging around the campsite with your friends after a great day out and about with the sun shining late into the night, a delicious salad to start off the meal with the freshest chicken, salmon and great cuts of steak and all the sides you could dream of! It’s always a fantastic meal.

2. What’s the one meal all the trip members rave about every summer?

STIR FRY! Food Directors go all out on stir fry night – there’s something for everyone… Chicken, beef, tofu and tons of the freshest vegetables… it’s better than anything in a restaurant and to top it off, the meal is often finished off in an authentic fashion… with fortune cookies!

3. Most bizarre food you’ve encountered on a Teen Tour?

Pizza on a stick! We were at the Calgary Stampede, where they have some of the strangest food under the sun. I had to try it, and it was very weird eating pizza like you would eat a popsicle.

4. Tell us some of the hidden gems you’ve come across in your travels! 

The deep fried Oreos from Big Daddy & Son’s Pizza at Venice Beach in Los Angeles are heavenly.

5. What’s the one dish you’ve mastered cooking because of your travels with WCC/360°?

I make a mean Banana Boat – you take a banana, scoop out a bit of the middle, stuff it until it’s bursting
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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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