A recent article on CNN.com discusses the trend of middle- and high-schoolers who are traveling to more and more exotic destinations. While the piece is well-intentioned, I still find its tone, and the kids it describes, vaguely annoying. Here’s why.
A spokesperson for a student travel agency says that teenagers today “want that notch on the belt. They want to say, ‘I’ve been to Ghana.’” Notice what the teenagers don’t apparently want to say, which is: “I want to go to Ghana.” The main purpose of their trip, it seems, is to be able to say they’ve been there. Of course, adults do this too.
“With colleges becoming so competitive, kids are trying to build their resumes.” Hey kids, guess what! You’re kids! You need to build your resume the way a fish needs a bicycle.
“Before Ashley began traveling, she wanted to be a nurse, but now she says, ‘I’m a French major. I’d like to work in an embassy.’” Guess what, Ashley. Everyone wants to work in an embassy when they start traveling. Then they realize it’s a job just like any other.
“[O]lder teenagers use the community service they did in Africa as fodder for college essays.” Let me guess: that week you spent in Ghana on your parents’ dime, like, totally changed you. You identified with so many poor people that you’ve already asked your parents to pay for another trip back to Ghana.
“Typically these trips cost thousands of dollars. But the price tags seem more palatable now that many U.S. sleep-away camps charge $4,000 for three weeks in a bunkhouse.” The article continues: “A 32-day trip to Europe offered by Westcoast Connection/360 Student Travel is $9,399… Closer to home, the June 27-August 14 session at Camp Mataponi — for girls on Sebago Lake in Maine is $9,300.” When I went to summer camp– not that long ago actually– I think it cost $150 for a week. And it was an awesome time. Any parent who pays $9,300 for their kid to go to summer camp ought to be committed.
Despite the above cynicism and apparent “everything sucks” attitude, I think it’s great when young people travel. But not when they’re trying to “build a resume,” not when their parents have to pay $10,000 for their trip, and not because they think it’ll impress their friends. Go, but go for the right reasons. Come to think of it, this applies to adults as well.
Read the article on CNN.com here.