A Grand Adventure

Imagine you’re in high school. You show up at the airport at 4AM to join a group of people you’ve never met. You board a plane and begin your journey to Wyoming. You’ve signed up for an adventure, and you’re not quite sure what to expect. Everything is going to be new: hiking, camping, visiting national parks, seeing wildlife, turning off your cell phone and iPod and being away from your family and friends for 10 days. You want to be brave and enjoy this new experience; after all you’ve already experienced so much in your life. As a child you were diagnosed with cancer or leukemia. Regardless of why you decided to join this trip, ultimately it’s a celebration of your life and your health. Thanks to the generosity of others, 9 high school students and patients of Texas Children’s Hospital were able to participate in an experience of a lifetime, all at no cost to them. Not only does the program receive financial support, but it has also become part of the culture and community of the Texas Children’s Cancer Center and has the support of doctors, administrators, and former patients.Their 10-day trip included the best of what the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Jackson Hole has to offer. Just a few of the highlights include: Snake River float trip, canoeing on String Lake, hike up to inspiration point, bird banding, hikes in Yellowstone, visit to Bear and Wolf Discovery Center, and a ride up the tram to enjoy the snow. Of course wildlife sightings were unforgettable. Moose, mule deer, elk, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, red fox and river otters all were seen. Ultimately, the highlight for all those involved were the friendships formed and sense of community. Everyone from teaching staff to chaperones to students noted that the bonds formed during the trip will remain long after the group returns to Texas.At the end of the week, each participant wrote a letter to next year’s group. What follows are quotes from these letters.“I left my phone and all my expectations in Texas. I desperately wanted to surrender to God and to nature, but where to begin? I was afraid to take this trip. It’s true. The girl who seems so fearless was afraid. I found solace in those around me and the strength I never knew I had atop Inspiration Point.”“Going into the unknown for many people is scary and frightening. The unknown is a place that we don’t go into and limits us. Coming to Wyoming and to the marvelous beauties that this place has in store is worth exploring the unknown.“I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t think I’d become friends with anyone here. But I did and I had a blast. Things here are so amazing and unreal there won’t be one moment when you’re not amazed.”“When you come here, let all of your troubles slip away. You will meet new friends and do things you could never imagine yourself doing. But if you leave your worries behind, this will be the trip of your life.”This was the fourth year that we have welcomed this extraordinary group from Houston, Texas to the Jackson Campus of Teton Science Schools.

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