After The Trip

Participants were asked to try to sum up their experience on Teens Westward Bound with one quote! Here they are:

“TWB has taught me how to take a step back from the mainstream and just enjoy the simple things in front of me.” – Kacie Barrett Mooresville, NC

“Meeting new friends is really easy and makes the trip 10 times more fun.” – Andrew Prachar Gastonia, NC

“I have no idea, where life takes me.” – Felipe Moda Mooresville, NC

“TWB has taught me how to be more open to do new things.” – Jessica Turney Cherryville, NC

“Teens Westward Bound has been the most rewarding ‘leap of faith’ I’ve ever taken.” – Brogan Brown Irmo, SC

“I will never forget trip and I will also never forget the people.” – Abby Copeland Mooresville, NC

“I loved TWB so much I have so much fun making new friends and experiencing new things.” – Kristina Vaher Belmont, NC

“I didn’t understand what past participants meant when they said they had 81 new family members, but now I get it.” – Lillie Griffin Mooresville, NC

“I may hate tortillas now, but I sure do love this country.” – Camryn Ray Whiteville, NC

“Don’t pack to many clothes or you will have 18 holes in your bag.” – Bryce Curtis Gastonia, NC

“Who would’ve thought I’d be home sick after I got home.” - Camryn Bernhardt Mooresville, NC

“I’ve never been so excited, happy, and sad in such a short amount of time.” – Winston Wise Cherryville, NC

“I could never have imagined that there were such incredible things in my country that were just under my nose.” – Bennett Estes Charlotte, NC

“Take it seriously, live in the moment, waste no opportunity.” – Richard Fernandez Kings Mountain, NC

“Stay positive and push through because the experiences and the people are worth it.” – Laura Parris Jonesville, SC

“TWB gave me 81 friends, 23 days, and 7 mentors that can never be replaced.” – Logan Swain Stokesdale, NC

“TWB makes me feel like the master of all elements because we conquered air, wind, fire, and water.” – Jordyn Burrell Gastonia, NC

“It was the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me! Definitely an AMAZING experience!” – Cayla Gregory Union, SC

“I met my new amazing family in 23 days and not a single moment disappointed me.” – Jenna Bright Union, SC

“I had an incredible journey and have met many, many new friends.” – Cole Frederick Knoxville, TN

“TWB taught me to be independent while also working with a team.” – Jenna Trantham Mooresville, NC

“TWB gave me a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see our beautiful country and I could not imagine passing that up.” – Bailee Keller Gastonia, NC

“I never knew sprinklers could bring people together and make them a family.” – Cody Haigler Pageland, SC

“TWB is an unforgettable experience and it has forever changed me as a person.” – Seth McCachern Mooresville, NC

“Great reminder of how good home cooking is.” – Timothy Sellers Mooresville, NC

“My heart grew 2 sizes and my family grew by 81.” – Cameron Thomas Belmont, NC

“The last few days of the trip are the worst because you realize the best experience of your life is ending.” – Tanner Hester Whiteville, NC

“It’s not about the destination it’s about the journey.” – Nate Craven Gastonia, NC

“23 days, 81 best friends, 6 amazing counselors, and 1 legendary motor coach operator, but I don’t think any participant can count all the moments of joy.” – Gia Lash Huntersville, NC

“It’s an adventure of a lifetime.” – John Gray Blount Cramerton, NC

“TWB was an amazing experience to find out who I am as a person also what having true friends mean!” – Alicia Hutchins Gastonia, NC

“This isn’t something you can google only experience and that’s what makes it such a life changer.” – Aubrie Miller Beaufort, SC

“You’re going to be tired, but don’t take it for granted because you won’t get an experience like this again.” – Carly Kurtiak Gastonia, NC

“You will never get an opportunity like this anywhere else, it truly changed my life.” – Mackenzie Wright Mooresville, NC

“My TWB experience will surely change my life, it certainly has already changed the way I think about other people.” – Lizzie Love Laurinburg, NC

“TWB the best way to know you’re cared for and loved.” – Alaina Wallace Laurel Hill, NC

“It was our family at home getting us through TWB, but it’s our TWB family that gets us through life.” – Rylee Roller Laurinburg, NC

“Words can not describe the past 23 days.” – Griffin Law Raleigh, NC

“It’s something unpredictable but in the end it’s right, I hope you had the time of your life.” – Ashlee Hamrick Kings Mountain, NC

“From the trains in Georgia to the sprinklers in California, TWB has given me so many friends and memories that I will love and cherish forever.” – Tyler Sellers Laurinburg, NC

“I really enjoyed this trip and it was the greatest experience of my life.” – Logan Mantooth Gastonia, NC

“You really find yourself and get to meet 81 new friends while doing it.” – Jada Prichard Eden, NC

“TWB has been the best experience of my life and the people I met, I can’t imagine living without.” – Mary Anna Chewning Mount Holly, NC

“Teens Westward Bound is a 23 day life changing experience where you not only get to see our beautiful country but you get to make 81 new best friends.” – Katie Bowyer Gastonia, NC

“82 people, 23 days, 14 states all led to one deep appreciation of one’s home, one’s country, others, and oneself.” – Alexandria Marsicovetere Indian Land, SC

“TWB gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel across the country with 81 friends and 7 awesome leaders.” – Sara McCarthy Indian Trail, NC

“TWB as become my family and I will never be able to repay this family for all they’ve done for me and for shaping me into the person that I am today.” – Callie Matthews Lexington, SC

“The best experience in my entire life.” – Lillian Sumner Beaufort, SC

“The trip changed me for the better and meant more to me than anyone could imagine.” – Rylee Gaus Mooresville, NC

“TWB has given me a new family and unforgettable adventures!” – Natalie Tillis Rockingham, NC

“I never realized you could make 81 friends so fast.” – Tristen Brock Union, SC

“TWB has opened my eyes to so many things and has been the best experience ever.” – Kenley Hazel Roxboro, NC

“TWB has made me so much stronger than I could ever imagine.” – Mary Helen Alford Newberry, SC

“There is nothing greater than the amount of beauty TWB allows you to see.” – Bailey Sloop Laurinburg, NC

“Sorry dad, the camera did nothing justice, except maybe New Orleans.” – Nicole Fortin Mooresville, NC

“TWB is a discovery of the country but more so of your own self and the people around you.” Kristina Sellers Mooresville, NC

“TWB is a life changing trip and I wouldn’t trade eating sandwiches, sleeping outside with bugs and 81 new best friends for anything in the world!” – Maddie Cabe Mooresville, NC

“TWB was an eye opener for me. It gave me a chance to see a glimpse of God’s glory, and realize that there’s more out there for me than my small hometown.” – Emma Parson Indian Trail, NC

“TWB has opened my eyes to many different things and has made a huge impact on my life.” – Taryn Jenkins Cherryville, NC

“God has given us an amazing gift and I can’t believe we have such an amazing opportunity to soak it all up.” Caroline McCrorey Mooresville/Huntersville, NC

“I came on this trip to prove 1 could go off by myself and make it alone, but what 1 found is that you’re never truly alone.” – Caleb “Crispy” Bozard Barnwell, SC

“TWB provides an answer for all your uncertainties, a journey for your wanted adventures, and most importantly family, a home for the days you feel unloved.” – Mikayla Wright Mooresville, NC

“Seeing America was lit but the friends I made on TWB are litter.”  - Sarah Bass Elon, NC

“I am so thankful for this opportunity to see America and make 89 new friends.” – Baylee Willis Bessener City, NC

“As someone who was worried about going on the trip, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.” – Lucas Bonomo Mooresville, NC

“No matter how right you pack your bags, going home after TWB will still leave you with a heavy heart.” – Sarah Whalen Louisville, KY

“I was shy. I didn’t start expanding till the end.” – Liza McIntyre Laurinburg, NC

“TWB was the best experience of my life, it’s a really unique experience to travel the country with 80+ strangers and become best friends within 3 days.” – Ashley Weinsten Charlotte, NC

“TWB is such an amazing experience that I wish everyone could go on and I wouldn’t want to be with any other group of people.” Leah Mosher Abbeville, SC

“The trip of a lifetime is beyond an understatement.” – Nick Richard Mooresville, NC

“The trip opened my eyes to see so many unique aspects of this country and life in general.” – Ian Stines Dallas, NC

“23 days away from home may seem impossible but with 82 new friends anything is possible.” – Blessid Snow Charlotte, NC

“There really isn’t anything ever you will experience that is like this trip. It is the trip of a lifetime.” – Olivia Kafer Roxboro, NC

“TWB is the best place to make new friends and be yourself.” – Kirsten Tevepaugh Mooresville, NC

“TWB is life changing and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.” – Anderson Crowder Gastonia, NC

“This trip is the best experience that anyone could ever dream of having.” – Caleb Mann Oxford, NC

“Much love.” – Allie Temple

“Listening to the stories from past participants nowhere near encompasses how amazing the trip and the people/counselors on it are.” – Sarah Royster

Day 23

The Grumpy’s are here for the final day of Teens Westward Bound Trip 1 2017.  Describing these past 23 days for each group has been hard, but we think our job is the hardest to capture and summarize the last day we say goodbye to our new friends. 

Today we woke up for the final time as a group of 82 at 6:00 am with our final “Good Morning Sunshines” from Dallas Godbold.  For all vehicles this morning (and the rest of the day) we were not to sleep and fulfill all last moments with each other.  Before making our way into Tennessee for our final Wal-Mart stop the vans and bus jammed to many of our favorite tunes from the trip such as “American Pie”, “Don’t Stop Believing”, “My Wish”, “Life is a Highway”, “Lean on Me”, and “Catch and Release” (one of our new favorites thanks to Eugene). 

We made it into Tennessee for our final Wal-Mart stop for our cooks to by us breakfast and lunch.  Many of us, with this being our last Wal-Mart stop, went ALL OUT!  Griffin Law bought a sleeve of 13 doughnuts, Tyler Sellers bought a box of 6 cinnamon rolls, Emma Parson bought a 2-liter of Dr. Pepper, Logan Swain and Kenley Hazel bought their second pint of Ben & Jerry’s on the trip, Jada Prichard bought both an entire hoagie and a pineapple, Mary Helen Alford bought four red velvet cupcakes, and numerous people bought muffins (keep in mind, this is all before our breakfast).  For a change for a traveling breakfast, we had a choice of  “Colossal Crunch Berry”, “Tutti Frutti”, and “Cinnamon Toasties” with milk and to reduce spills, we used Styrofoam cups. 

As we continued on our travels, getting closer and closer to home, both the bus and vans had some bittersweet moments.  On the bus many people were passing around journals as if they were yearbooks at the end of a school year, while the vans were listening to many of our favorite TWB tunes as we crossed the Tennessee/North Carolina border.  Shortly after crossing into North Carolina we stopped at a rest area for us all to relieve ourselves (by day 23, the girls have finally figured out how to make the line move faster).  These last few hours are bittersweet, as we all continue to say our goodbyes, listen to our favorite tunes, nap on each other (shhh…don’t tell the counselors), and share our last peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

We are now at our last rest stop in Troutman for our groups to finish our final jobs before pick-up at Mallard Creek.  Dopey’s are doing their final bus cleaning and your very own Grumpy’s are writing the final blog.  This time at the rest stop is bittersweet; we may not miss these rest stops across America, but we will miss the people we stopped at them with. 

This is the Grumpy’s for the final signoff.  We promise we aren’t grumpy; we just have mixed feelings about the next 4 hours.           


Day 22

Grumpy’s here for the final night of blogging…and sadly TWB Trip 1 2017.  This morning we were awoken by Dallas and her “Good Morning Sunshine’s!” at, yet again, 6:00 am.

Making our way back East, we left Illinois and drove through Indiana where we enjoyed some NAME BRAND “Pop Tarts”, in numerous flavors including strawberry, blueberry, cherry, s’mores, chocolate fudge, and cinnamon sugar (Thanks Cooks!!).  As a joke, we like to do that a lot on TWB, last night our own Griffin Law was to get everyone to ask Jon Alliss where the lost and found was.  Needless to say, he was not too happy about that, but to continue the joke we all asked stupid, irrelevant questions about the state of Indiana. As Jon’s response for the next ‘2 hour stretch he read as many Indiana facts off of the Internet as he could just to annoy us all!   

After a few hours of driving through Indiana, we stopped at Churchill Downs in Kentucky! At our arrival, we had two amazing families greet us at the gates! We had Sarah Whalen’s family and friends join us with the tour. Unfortunately, we also said goodbye to Erin Sherrill as she had to leave early for college classes in St. Louis!  In the tour we were able to see the track, stables, Twin Spires, and the Paddock. After the tour, we watched a movie about the Kentucky Derby, toured the museum, and visited the gift shop!

Group picture at Churchill Downs!

On our tour of Churchill Downs!

Barbaro (2006 Kentucky Derby Winner) Memorial and Tomb

The Twin Spires

The Paddock

The Stands

The boys watching a race, betting on a winner!!
We also heard some fabulous research from some of our own Grumpy’s: Aubrie Miller on the Kentucky Derby, Caleb “Crispy” Bozard on Churchill Downs, and Logan Swain on the state of Kentucky!

Logan Swain presenting her research on the state of Kentucky!

Crispy filling us in on Churchill Downs!

Aubrie Miller telling us about the Kentucky Derby!
Once leaving Churchill Downs, we had to play some musical seats in our vehicles so that we could practice for our upcoming competition. We sat in our groups, and came up with a special and unique method of our own to describe the past 22 days and 89 people!  As we were on our way to the Original Kentucky Fried Chicken, we made a quick stop to wash our vans and bus (the splash from the water was the first “shower” some of us had in a few days). While we had some downtime, we were able to practice our skits for the upcoming competition later this evening!

After patiently waiting for many days for the original KFC, the time had finally arrived! After the wonderful cooks “prepared” our KFC for us (including KFC employee Seth McCachern, who felt very at home), they came out to greet us with KFC buckets on their heads! Jada Prichard happily pushed her way to the front of the line (just kidding, they called us by groups…and her group, the Dopey’s, were last) We all were able to get two pieces of chicken and two sides. Our side options consisted of mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and mac ‘n’ cheese. We were also able to get a biscuit with a choice of sweet tea or lemonade (After having to buy sweet tea in jugs at Wal-Mart for the past 18 days, most of us were excited to be closer to the South). Many people also bought dessert and shirts as souvenirs!

Abby Copeland trying to catch the KFC bucket on her head!

Griffin Law... just look at that concentration!

Lillie Griffin!

Camryn Bernhardt!

Rylee Gaus has the best faces...

And she was SUCCESSFUL!
After our long, torturous bus ride of five minutes, with our bellies full of grease and food for the first time in weeks, we arrived at our campsite for our competition. When we arrived at Levi Jackson State Park, we all gathered in our groups for a quick meeting before the competition.  With all of the groups performing touching, heart warming (**cough  cough** not the Grumpy’s) and roast worthy skits,  we waited with anticipation for the results. After the results came in, drum roll please… the Bashfuls came out with the win, earning 12 points for this competition, since the last competition is worth double points!

The Bashfuls!

The Grumpys!

The Happys!

The Sneezys!

The Dopeys!

The Sleepys!

To everyone’s surprise, including the winning group, the Bashfuls also won the overall competition!!!!! Hannah is so proud!! The Dopey’s also came out on top, winning the cooking competition! Following the results, we had a short sing along, preparing us for tomorrow… our final day! With tonight being the last night we all have together, we decided to cozy up for our last night under the stars (the Eastern sky will never attest to that of the West).

We are incredibly excited to see our wonderful families and friends tomorrow, although we are also very sad to have to say goodbye to the delicious PB & J sandwiches, “Van talks” and amazing friends we have met on the trip! This is the Grumpy’s signing off for the last time. We promise we aren’t grumpy, we are just anxious to finally get more than 6 hours of sleep and real food. See you tomorrow!!

Day 21

The Grumpy’s are back again!! We got to sleep in this morning!! We were woken up by Matt Harkey at 6:00 am, and at this point we will gladly take any extra sleep! 

Before leaving the cornfields of Kansas, we stopped by the home of the Jayhawks, Kansas University. We heard research from Lillian Sumner about the state of Kansas, Bryce Curtis about Kansas University, Sara McCarthy about the oil wells of Kansas, and Anderson Crowder about Kansas State University!  After being informed we all knew we had the knowledge to head up to the bookstore to do some serious shopping. We arrived right as the bookstore opened, with the cashiers grinning from ear to ear to see none other than 82 teenagers!!  Since the bus had not yet eaten breakfast (a choice of cinnamon, strawberry, or raspberry rolls), many of us decided to raid the coffee shop as well. Cam Ray, of course, ran straight to the Apple products in the back of the store to talk to her friends and family!

ALWAYS taking advantage of the Apple products in bookstores!

More advantage takers!

After leaving the campus with some Jayhawk swag in hand and on backs, we crossed into the state of Missouri heading to our next Wal-Mart stop! YAY WALMART! Many of us were tired of eating peanut butter and jelly (pretty sure we have been eating out of the same jars of peanut butter for around 20 days) so many people stopped by the Subway and Wal-Mart deli for lunch! With lack of sleep and Eastern temperature changes, many of us have unfortunately caught the common cold.  Now for the past few Wal-Mart stops, we have been stocking up on OJ, tissues, and cold medicine (thanks to Brogan Brown and all other adults for buying it for us)!  

Once we left Wal-Mart, we had a long stretch as we were on our way to The St. Louis Gateway Arch!  Lucas Bonomo, trying to prevent illness, bought mango flavored orange juice to the back of the bus…only for it to be spilled all over the back.  Lucas had forgotten to screw on the cap, resulting in Andrew Prachar spilling it on Cody Haigler (have fun bus cleaners!).  Carolina Girl was dropping off one of our own, Jordan Carlson, at the airport (many of us cried, but at least he is coming back for the last day!!!). 

As arriving in St. Louis, Crispy Bozard shared some fun facts regarding the skyscrapers in the city, as well as many other cities in all the states we have passed through (we will tell you later parents, don’t worry).  Once we arrived at our parking spot at the arch, we found none other than Grant Deaton to greet us!

We all gathered onto the steps of the Mississippi River, again, only this time we were in Missouri to hear research from our very own Tanner Hester and Bailee Keller on the city of St. Louis. We also rode a roller coaster with Jon!!!! We had about one hour to tour the gift shop before it was our time to go up in the arch (hope heights don’t scare too many).  Many people got refreshments from the vending machines because it was so hot, including St. Louis native cream soda. Many others went to the fudge shop, including Maddie Cabe who took on the “buy two get one free deal” (trust us, it was really good).

Tanner Hester telling us about St. Louis!

Bailee Keller presenting her research on St. Louis!


Once the time came to take our ride in the sky, we had to split up into groups of five (luckily, we were able to pick our groups).  To ride in the arch, we all had to squeeze into these small 4x4 pods! Cue Closter phobia! When inside the arch, we could hear all the other groups screaming for jokes and singing the whole ride up. It was SKETCH!  The path leading into the pods was under construction and the entire way up there was one window where we could all see the supports and mechanics of the arch.

WE MADE IT TO THE TOP!!!!!! The sketchy four-minute ride was worth it after being able to see the wonderful view, from 630 feet up in the air! We were able to see almost the entire city of St. Louis on one side, with the Mississippi River and the state of Illinois on the other.  We came back down from the top and headed back in the muggy heat to the vehicles. We had another stretch to our final destination of the day, McNair Camp Grounds on Carlyle Lake, Illinois.
Tyler Sellers, Griffin Law, Lillie Griffin, Camryn Bernhardt, and Nick Richard!

Taryn Jenkins, Alex Marsicovetere, Ashley Weinstein, Crispy Bozard, and Alicia Hutchins!

Cameron Thomas, Tristen Brock, Lucas Bonomo, and Richard Fernandez!

Jordyn Burrell and Richard Fernandez!

Callie Matthews, Jordyn Burrell, Seth McCrachen, Brogan Brown, and Carolina McCrorey!

At the top of the arch!

Cameron Thomas and Winston Wise!

Jenna Bright and Ashley Weinstein being the arch!

Lillie Griffin and Griffin Law!

Mackenzie Wright, Jenna Bright, Ashlee Hamrick, and Camryn Bernhardt!

Dinner tonight was meatball subs, with a side Caesar salad, chips, and cookies for dessert!  Later this evening we will have another sing-a-long, two nights in a row (we must have done something good!) This is the Grumpy Group signing off, saying we aren’t grumpy, we are just sad we have to leave our friends in a few days L