June 24 - July 8, 2018 // 15 Days
July 11 - July 25, 2018 // 15 Days
Completing Grades 8-12
Join our 15-day teen community service trip and hurricane relief service program focused on the residents of Houston and the surrounding area.
“Our daughter came home feeling that she had friends that valued her and that she was able to make a difference in the lives of others.” - Parent of RLT Alumna Alexa M.
On August 25th, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast. The devastating and extremely catastrophic storm dumped over 50 inches of rain on south-central Texas and affecting more than 13 million people and causing over $180 Billion dollars in damage (soon to surpass the costs of Hurricane Katrina). The category 4 storm turned roads into rivers, and the flooding forced nearly 40,000 people out of their homes. 210,000 homes were damaged and destroyed, and 70 people lost their lives. Months later, many families are still living in community centers and refugee shelters. Though the news has moved on, we have not.
Whenever we witness destruction like this, we can’t help but wonder how we can help. Since 2006 we have been volunteering our summers to assist the homeowners affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We have seen the struggle to rebuild and witnessed the sluggish pace of these efforts. When the dust settles and the media leaves, the rebuilding must go on. Oftentimes, it is through the efforts of grassroots volunteers that victims are able to rebuild their lives.
This summer, we ask you to join us as we travel down to Houston to offer assistance to those in need of help. At this point in time, our efforts will focus on debris removal, rebuilding homes, and lending an ear to those who want to share their story. Our work will be difficult, our accommodations simple, but the feeling of being of service to the warm people of Texas will be priceless.
Channel your inner-artist as we explore the intersection of art and culture in Houston. Snap photos and discover the meaning behind the city's vibrant murals, distict neighborhoods, and funky street art.
True southern cooking requires more than just a recipe -- it requires soul. Work alongside some of Houston's best chefs to fine-tune your culinary skills and prepare mouthwatering comfort dishes such as fried chicken, creole tomatoes and ochre, cornbread, and peach cobbler.
Home to over 400 species of marine life from around the world, the Houston Aquarium boasts a variety of enchanting exhibits. Voyage past a 200,000 gallon shark tank, pet a stingray, and learn about the Gulf’s important ecosystems on this adventure!
On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong spoke the famous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Join us as we unravel the mysteries of outer space on an exhilarating tour of the Houston Space Center. See giant rockets, interplanetary rock samples, and marvel at Apollo 17, the space shuttle that returned from the moon in 1972.
Sold from trucks, windows, and sweet shops, sno-balls (not snow cones) are a local treat of finely shaved ice drenched in colorful syrup. Flavors range from the traditional to the uber-contemporary (satsuma, cardamom, and ginger).
Explore miles of verdant trails and picturesque boardwalks at the Houston Arboretum. Learn how the arboretum and its swamp system did exactly what they were supposed to during the hurricane and discover how we can use nature to mitigate future disasters. Marvel at the a variety of aquatic insects, reptiles, fish and tadpoles that call the nature center home.
Treat yourself to a slice of fresh, homemade pie at Houston’s iconic House of Pies. From crispy pecan pies to supreme berry crumbles, this dessert won’t disappoint.
Disaster Relief, Hurricane Reconstruction, Rebuilding Local Homes, Replanting Native Trees, Wetland and Ecosystem Rehabilitation
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total number of hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
8 - 12*
We stay in a private home. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability.
*Participants must be at least 14 years old at the start of the program
At the RLT office we have watched in disbelief at the widespread devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The bulk of charitable giving has already occurred and will come nowhere near the public funding that will ultimately be necessary for a rebuilding effort destined to last at least ten years.
Months after Hurricane Harvey, many families are still living in community centers and refugee shelters. Though the news has moved on, we have not. We recognize that we have a duty to our friends and neighbors in Texas, and will be there to help out in whatever way we are needed.
The expectation today is that most homes and communities will need to be bulldozed and rebuilt. The scale of the disaster, stretching for hundreds of miles and its impact on infrastructure like roads, bridges, and phone service, has overwhelmed local capacity to develop a recovery plan. Current initiatives are focused on removing debris and muck from homes. This summer, we will lend a hand to rebuild and restore homes in the low-moderate income homes on the east side. We will work alongside local project managers, americorps members, and a well known disaster resiliance and recovery non-profit on construction, rebuilding, and restoration projects.
The core of RLT community service programs is to contribute and share with others around the world; never has there been a more pressing need than right now in our own country. RLT’s community service experience will allow us to be self-sufficient as we travel to this afflicted area; small groups of our volunteers will contribute time and labor in 15-day programs throughout the summer.
While this trip is a labor of love, there is also time for group fun and activities. From morning and evening group activities, to pizza and barbeque dinners, there will be many opportunities to forge new friendships. The last two days of our journey will be spent exploring, resting, and reflecting on our contribution to this coastal community.
Arrive in Houston, settle in.
Orientation, visit the Space Center (Gateway to NASA Johnson Space Center), visit the Houston Aquarium, familiarize ourselves with the city.
Help to brighten communities disproportionately affected by storms by assisting local residents to restore damaged homes and community buildings. In the evenings, we treat our selves to slices of pie at the iconic House of Pies, bike in Buffalo Bayou park, stroll through Memorial Park, and go on a self-guided art walks in the city (snapping insta-worthy photos as we go).
Houston Arboretum and Southern Cooking Lessons (Day 7):
Explore the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, discover how this swampy area acted as a natural reservoir and protected Houston during Harvey. In the afternoon, we join some of Houston's best chefs to fine-tune our culinary skills and prepare mouthwatering comfort dishes such as fried chicken, creole tomatoes and ochre, cornbread, and peach cobbler.
For the next four days, we continue our service work in Houston. We work to rebuild homes (construction, debri removal, and painting projects) and connect with community members. In the evenings we reward our hard work with snow balls at MAM's and journey to watch the famous Houston Waugh Bat Colony, comprised of 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats, as they spiral out into the sunset.
Enjoy the delicious sounds, tastes, and smells of Houston. Close with our traditional final banquet.
Say goodbye to our new friends and fly home.
*Exact day to day calendar may change depending on the needs of our community service site and homeowners, activities will not
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
Packing List - Coming soon!
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination of Houston, TX on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination of Houston, TX back home on the last day of the trip.