June 24, 2019

Summer is calling and we must go!

Earlier this month, our first wave of students departed for their summer adventures — the first of 1,000 Summer Searchers* that will be taking on the world this summer!

A signature component of the Summer Search program, all sophomore and junior high school students receive full scholarships to attend experiential education programs, ranging from wilderness expeditions, to academic programs, to international service trips.

Deer Hill BackpacksStudents on a wilderness and service trip with Deer Hill Expeditions.

Before we go any further, we want to send out a huge THANK YOU to our staff! If anyone reading this has ever tried planning a trip for a few family members or friends, then you know how challenging that can be. So, imagine doing that for ONE THOUSAND young people! From finding the right summer program, to coordinating travel, to communicating with families, to getting students prepared and properly outfitted, Summer Search staff put in a lot of hard work and investment for the inspiring young leaders we get to work with.

So, let’s take a look at what our Summer Searchers are up to this summer!

What Will They Be Doing?

Hiking with NOLSStudents on a wilderness program with National Outdoor Leadership School.

From rock-climbing and hiking, to performing and studying, to interning at corporations and serving communities, our students are doing it all.

Program Type # of Students
Wilderness & Outdoor Adventure 519
Community Service & Cultural Immersion 291
Academic 55
Internship 28
Summer Camp 27
Visual & Performing Arts 17

Where Are They Going?

Service program with GLAStudents in Costa Rica on a service trip with Global Leadership Adventures.

These experiences wouldn’t be possible without our summer program partners! They take our students all over the country and the globe, and provide Summer Searchers with growth opportunities to step outside of their comfort zones, take healthy risks, and develop the skills, strength, and confidence that will help them succeed in school, work, and in life.

Plus, most of our partners provide these experiences at a significant discount (often 50% or more off of their tuition fees) for Summer Search. We’re so thankful for this generous, in-kind support, that allows us to serve more young people.

Here are our top five most popular summer programs by grade.**

Top 10th Grade Programs Top 11th Grade Programs
Chewonki Deer Hill Expeditions
Deer Hill Expeditions Fuller Center for Housing
Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC) Global Glimpse
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) VISIONS Service Adventures

Canoeing with NCOBSStudents on a river adventure with North Carolina Outward Bound School.

We’re also tremendously grateful for our partnership with United Airlines, who has donated air travel for 79 Summer Search students to fly across the United States and Caribbean to attend these summer programs.

Top Domestic Destinations Top International Destinations
Arizona Costa Rica
California Cuba
Colorado Dominican Republic
Maine Ecuador
New York Panama

What Are They Bringing?

Philly Outward Bound Day 2019Students getting a ropes course training at Summer Search Philly’s pre-summer fitness event, in partnership with Outward Bound Philadelphia.

So, what does one pack for such an impactful trip? Students do receive an extensive packing list, but beyond backpacks, boots, or a passport, it’s the “invisible” items that are critical to getting the most from the experience. Namely, social-emotional skills and mindsets that will enable students to grow and learn. When they return, it will help them navigate the challenges they’ll face on their journeys to (and through!) adulthood.

We asked Summer Searchers to share their advice for sophomores about to set out on these transformative summer trips, which was published in a recent article by The Atlantic Renewal Project.

Summer Search students and alumni reflected on the importance of “packing” the following:

A Growth Mindset




Here’s some of their wisdom, and check out the full article to hear more:

“I am most proud of myself for embracing challenges and pushing myself to face my fears—and taking that leap of faith, knowing the uncertainty of what follows.”Kyle, Summer Search student

“My summer experience made me realize that if I push myself enough, I can do things I never imagined possible.”Marilyn, Summer Search student

“Don’t be afraid to take chances, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and learn from your peers. It will be a life-changing experience.”Summer Search alumna

NYC students with ChewonkiStudents persevering through the rain in Maine on a program with Chewonki.

This fall, Summer Searchers will reconnect with their mentors to reflect on how their summer trip impacted them and what they’re “bringing home” to integrate into their personal and academic lives. We can’t wait to see how these experiences broaden our students’ views of the world, and most importantly, themselves.

Bon Voyage!

*Summer program student numbers as of June 20, 2019.

**Summer Partners listed alphabetically.

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