Traveling the west


Annie Penland poses with her group on their western trip

Riley Vradenburg


This past summer, junior Annie Penland went on the adventure of a lifetime. She participated in Teens Camping Tour of the West, which is none other than a tour of the western states by camping. A participant not only gives up half their summer, but gives up half their summer to travel across the country with 55 strangers, Penland said. When Penland sent in her application in March of 2016, she never expected to return with so many memories. Although she was nervous before leaving, Penland does not regret her decision to go on this trip.

“We left from Statesville, North Carolina,” Penland said. “We bus everywhere we go. It took three days of mostly just riding in buses to get to places where we would tour and that is when you got to know the people on your bus.”

On the trip, each participant is responsible for taking care of themselves for the most part, which adds a very independent factor to the matter. Taking care of someone at home is completely different than taking care of someone the wilderness.

“The trip is about appreciating america and it is also for self growth,” Penland said. “We make all of our own food, set up our own camp, clean it, and we wash and dry our own clothes. We also manage our money for the entire trip.”

The trip was not all glamour and fun. The campers worked hard, and woke up early to maximize the entire experience. Every day had to be planned to receive the full impression of the west.

“We all had our own jobs, whether it be van cleaner or cook of trailer packer, and the jobs are on a rotation so everyone does each job,” Penland said. “On a normal day we woke up around 5:30 am, or whenever the sun came up because we slept outside with no tents or anything.”

Each day brought a new adventure.

“Sometimes we would hike, sometimes we would be in a city, where we could just venture off and do whatever we want,” Penland said. “When we were in San Francisco, a couple of friends and I took a taxi to some shopping areas. The most memorable part of the trip was the grand canyon because of how hard it was. I could not believe I was able to hike it.”

The trip was not all fun and games; however; there were some obvious rules that went along with the experience.

“The only rules on the trips are no drugs, no alcohol, no stealing and no ‘coupling’, which just means no getting close to one person or small group because it is supposed to be a group thing like we are all friends with each other,” Penland said.

The trip was unforgettable and taught Penland a lot about herself.

“I feel good about the experience,” Penland said. “I think that I learned a lot about managing my life and staying true to my morals and the type of person I am.”

Although it was a hard thing to do, it was something so worthy of Penland’s time. Penland made so many memories and good friends.