Student travelers, all grown up
With every trip we plan, our hope is that the students who travel with us go home wanting to see even more of the world. Our dream is that travel sparks something in them that changes the course of their lives. For three of our BRT team members, Jamie Glomp, Kimberly King and Melony Showalter, that dream became reality. In today’s post, we’ll let them share their stories of how traveling with BRT as students changed the way they see the world and inspired their career paths.
That first trip
Melony – Our high school band director was on an every other year rotation that took us to Orlando, so I had the opportunity to participate in two BRT-led travel experiences, as both a sophomore and senior. Everyone in the band looked forward to these trips – they were pretty much all we talked about on trip years. That first trip was especially amazing because it was the first time I took a big trip away from my parents. Our trips were fantastic because they allowed us to be independent in a controlled environment. There were still rules we had to follow, like checking in a couple times a day, waking up on time, managing money and staying hydrated, but we still felt like we were making our own adult decisions.
Jamie – My first trip was to California my freshman year of high school. We visited Old Town San Diego, Sea World, Universal Studios, Ventura Beach, and Disneyland. California had me star struck. I loved seeing all the quintessential Hollywood sights that I recognized from movies and television. It was also such a cool feeling to have some independence. Teenagers, especially those younger than the driving age, don’t get many chances to venture out on their own, yet we were allowed to explore Hollywood Boulevard and the Farmers’ Market freely until designated check in times. From a parent’s perspective, I suppose this may sound terrifying, but I think this freedom let us practice being responsible adults. We learned to look out for each other and remained acutely aware of both our surroundings and schedule.
Kimberly – I was a sophomore in high school and we travelled on The Big Red Boat to the Bahamas and went to perform at Disney World afterwards. It was my first time traveling outside of the US and without my parents. It was an incredible experience and one I still remember after 20 years!
How did that first trip ultimately impact your life and career?
Melony – I stand behind the phrase, “it is not what you know, it is who you know.” While what you know is still very important, I would not have the job I have today without the people I’ve met along the way. My high school band director helped put be in the career path I am on. When I was in college, he called me and asked if I was looking for a part time job (what college student isn’t?!) – he helped me get a job babysitting for Tami Rogers’ kids after school. I was able to babysit for a year and really got to know the family. Once I graduated, I applied for a job at Bob Rogers Travel and was fortunate enough to get the job. That was in 2011 and I am still here!
Kimberly – I got “the bug” to travel after that trip, I realized how big the world was and how many places I wanted to see.
Jamie – I always thought it would be fun to work at Walt Disney World one day, but that thought turned into a dream in high school that was definitely strengthened by my BRT trips. I achieved my dream by participating in the Disney College Program as a Photopass Photographer. I spent a lot of time on Main Street and always enjoyed watching student marching bands performing just like I did in high school. From these trips (and others) I learned that I enjoy the travel planning process just as much as enjoy actually traveling. While I no longer play my instrument, there’s no doubt that traveling with the band had a huge impact on my course of my life and career.
What does travel mean to you?
Kimberly – Travel has opened my eyes to the world around me. It has shown me how incredibly lucky I am, helped me make lifelong friendships, given me a deeper compassion for others and given me experiences that could never be replaced. The memories I have traveling are the happiest of my life and I can’t wait to see where I get to go next!
Melony – Travel has become very important to me. My husband (also a BRT employee) and I love to travel and save all of our money for travel around the world. It’s the only way to experience the world and it’s a great way to reset. It makes you a more well-rounded person and helps you to relate to other people. It also helps bring out your creative side to help solve challenges you have in your day-to-day life.
Jamie – For me, travel is a way to form relationships whether it’s with your travel companions, or those you meet in a destination. It’s a way to explore new cultures and life perspectives, which in turn help you to grow personally.
What would you say to students and their parents who are considering going on their first trip?
Jamie – Group travel is an excellent opportunity for students to explore the world around them and further their music education. It’s also a great way for them to practice being responsible, punctual, and aware of their personal safety and behavior. There were many students in my band who had never traveled, or had never traveled without parents. Sure, this led to some lost tickets, and wet bus rides when they didn’t have the forethought to pack dry clothing for after the beach, but these lessons were all learned in a controlled, safe environment. Tour directors were in place to handle ticket replacements and chaperones were present to remind students to prepare accordingly for the next day’s adventure. Now that I work for BRT and see trips from our end, I can speak even more highly of the level of service and support provided to groups throughout a trip.
Kimberly – Go for it! The experience of travel is life changing, and the experience to perform in some very unique places is something you will never forget!
Melony – There is no better experience while in school. When I was in school I was told, “you will not remember each day in class, but you will remember your trip and the memories you make.” That stands true for me. And there’s just no better way to discover yourself than through travel.
Thank you for sharing your stories, ladies! If you have former students whose experience on a BRT trip profoundly impacted their lives, please share them with us! Share those stories by connecting with us in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood – we love to hear how those “moments that matter” inspire students.
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