September 19, 2019

Summer Search has officially closed our 2019 summer travel season, with our last group of students returning home from their challenging and empowering summer experiences last month.

In the end, nearly 900 high school Summer Searchers received full scholarships to attend experiential education programs all over the world – ranging from wilderness expeditions, to academic programs, to international cultural and service trips.

2019 Summer Programs and ExperiencesStudents (and a few staff members) on summer experiences in Thailand and Ghana with The Fuller Center for Housing, in Tahoe with the Gateway Mountain Center, and at the University of Delaware’s Edge Summer College Program.

Congratulations to every single Summer Search student who embarked on a summer adventure, took risks, and achieved incredible accomplishments!

But the growth doesn’t stop there. As our young people return home and head back to school, they’ll be partnering with their mentors to reflect on and learn from their triumphs and setbacks. This process creates a cycle of action and reflection that supports our young people to develop the social-emotional skills that will help them succeed in school, work, and in life.

These transformative opportunities wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our entire Summer Search community — from our dedicated staff, to our trusted summer program partners, to our generous supporters.

In case you haven’t been following Summer Search’s Instagram story, here are a few of our favorite moments from an amazing summer, and the partners that helped make those moments possible for our students.

United Airlines

Summer Search partners with United Airlines

Summer Search is honored to team up with United Airlines for the second consecutive summer to provide more students the chance to travel across the United States and Latin America! Pictured above is a group of Summer Search students about to board a United flight from San Francisco to the Dominican Republic for an international service program with Global Leadership Adventures and 7 Elements.

Below is that same group of Summer Searchers taking a short break from working hard on the construction of a bottle house for the local community in Caño Dulce. Read more about this unique all-Summer-Search trip on the GLA blog.

Custom Summer Program with Global Leadership Adventures and 7 ElementsPhoto courtesy of 7 Elements.

Global Leadership Adventures

Jose from Philadelphia on a GLA experience

Speaking of GLA, Jose (above, far right) is a Philly Summer Searcher who also went to the Dominican Republic on a different GLA trip. Now in his senior year of high school, he shared is reflections about what he brought home from his summer experience.

“Ever since the trip I have learned what it is to work for what you need/want and what it is to appreciate what those around can offer. I have changed and seek to help as much as possible and make it easier on those around me. The trip showed me that we all struggle and that sometimes even the best and most independent need some help.”

Deer Hill Expeditions

Wilderness and Service programs with Deer Hill Expeditions

“I believe that this trip helped enlighten and showed me what I knew I was capable of but never acted upon. It was a good opportunity for me to take action and try new things that I have never done before and put myself in difficult situations… It does help me see a new perspective on what my future could be and that there is never a shortage of possibilities of what one can do.” – Chiosna, Summer Search Boston

Chiosna is one of many Summer Search sophomores who spent their summer backpacking in the mountains of Colorado and working with Native communities in the American Southwest, thanks to Deer Hill Expeditions, one of our longest-running partners (nearly 30 years!). Plus, Deer Hill provided the opportunity for a handful of juniors to travel internationally for a cross-cultural service program in Costa Rica!

Global Glimpse

Zaria in Panama with Global GlimpseSummer Search Bay Area student Zaria (right) on an international travel and leadership program with Global Glimpse in Chitré, Panama.

“Personally for me, this trip is really something that I will always remember and always carry with me. This trip has made me care more for my world and has inspired me to really make a difference and I think that is what is really great about Global Glimpse.” – Zaria, Summer Search Bay Area

Students like Zaria engage in structured 16-day international experiences focused on service-learning, cultural immersion, and leadership development in Ecuador, Panama, or the Dominican Republic. The Global Glimpse program builds empathy, agency, and global perspective to empower students from all backgrounds to succeed in college and drive change locally and globally.

VISIONS Service Adventures

Summer Search Seattle students in Montana with VISIONS

Here’s a group of students on an all-Summer-Search experience with VISIONS Service Adventures in the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. VISIONS wrote a wonderful spotlight on their partnership with Summer Search and why they love working with our young people!

“VISIONS has been one of Summer Search’s key partners for more than two decades. In addition to providing them with life-changing service trips for teens, we can attest that Summer Search students bring depth, diversity, and fun to our programs.”


NYC students with NOLS Adirondacks

We’ve been sending students on wilderness expeditions with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for many years. This summer was the first time we had an all-Summer-Search group take on the NOLS Adirondacks program! Our students learned leadership and outdoor skills as they backpacked through the hills and lakes of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, one of the oldest protected lands in the country.

Global Exchange

Summer Searchers in Cuba

And here’s another first… Summer Search sent our first group of students to Cuba! Thanks to our partner Global Exchange, students from our Boston and NYC sites (plus a few mentors) traveled to Cuba for once-in-a-lifetime cultural immersion trip.

Global Routes

Ecuador with Global Routes

Here are a group of Summer Searchers in Ecuador with Global Routes on a custom program focusing on sustainable community service, immersive homestay experiences in rural villages, and authentic travel.

The experience has shaped my life for the better. When I reflect back on my life before the trip, often times I say to my self ‘what was I doing?’ Now I use my time more wisely and make smarter decisions. Another plus is that I have acquired a lot of knowledge about myself and the planet, which I plan to use to better my community.” – Giftbelle, Summer Search New York City

Northwest Outward Bound School

Raelynn with Northwest Outward Bound School

In reflecting on her summer exploring the Pacific Northwest with the Northwest Outward Bound School (NWOBS), Raelynn (above, on the left), a rising junior from Summer Search Seattle, shared that she not only developed a new understanding for what she can achieve, but also a strong sense of connection to herself and others.

“During my experience I learned a lot about perseverance and patience. It also opened my eyes to how much compassion is needed to develop deep relationships.”

In closing, we want to say one more time… congratulations to all of our students on a transformative summer!!

Summer Searchers in Philadelphia with Go AdventureSummer Searchers in Philadelphia on a Social Justice tour with Go Adventure.

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