Location Spotlight: Triangle Y Ranch Camp

We are so excited to kick off our gap year program at the Triangle Y Ranch Camp. During their stay in Arizona, our students will participate in group discussion, games, team building activities, and Winterline rules/guidelines to strengthen their bond before they embark on the rest of their 9-month journey.

This specific YMCA retreat center has a unique history. The site was formerly a mining community, for mostly gold and copper, and was right next-door to Buffalo Bill’s ranch. Mrs. Woods, a local children’s author, inherited the camp in 1949. Her sons were passionate about the outdoors, so she donated the site to the YMCA, and it quickly became an all-boys camp. The Triangle Y Ranch Camp is now co-ed and also offers opportunities for underprivileged kids in the area.

Triangle Y Ranch Camp
Photo From: Triangle Y Ranch Camp

The ranch camp sits on 200 acres of land at 4,600 feet of elevation in the high desert of Tucson. There are many natural wonders to discover there; many guests and staff have seen deer, coyotes, and bobcats on the property! Not to mention the beautiful views that come with the high desert scenery.

There are also plenty of fun activities for our Winterline students to take part in during their free time. Archery, riflery, zip lining, a climbing wall, high ropes course, and swimming pool are amongst some of the options.  Guided trips to local caves are also offered!

What an amazing place to meet and get to know our new students! We cannot wait! See you in September 🙂

New Student Spotlight: Paris Geolas

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I first was introduced to the concept in my freshman year of high school and cast it aside almost immediately. For me it didn’t seem realistic and I’d had a fairly set track in my mind of what my future looked like, and I didn’t see pushing back college as a part of it.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
Paris hiking in Moab this summer.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

For my last two years of high school, I attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a two year boarding school which you apply to your sophomore year and if accepted, take mostly college classes for the remainder of high school. Having moved out at sixteen and essentially done two years of college already, I was looking for something a little bit different and was excited for the opportunity to take a break from a classroom setting. I found Winterline and became more excited for my future there than directly back into a desk chair, and that’s when I knew I wanted to take a gap year. 

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I absolutely can’t wait for NOLS. I spent this summer living in the middle of the San Juan National Forest working as an ecology tour guide at a zipline retreat, which has been my first real exposure to living outside, so I’m excited for a little over a week of backpacking.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
The view from a bridge near Paris’ cabin in Colorado.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

My favorite thing on this earth to do is write. No matter what I do or where I go, I’ll always be a writer. I’ve recently discovered a new sector of that passion, writing code. I’d like to go into computer science or political journalism. I know these are two very different fields but they excite me in ways that I want both of.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I went to Iceland in February with a team from NCSSM. I had just been accepted to Winterline and was deciding whether or not to just jump in and do it or go to UNC as planned. As part of the trip, we took a day to climb the glacier Sólheimajökull, and as we made our way up and began to see the vastness of the land and the snow, our guide turned to me and said, “I used to work an office job before this. I wonder how I ever made it.” I knew then that I had to re-evaluate the way I thought about learning, success, and my career path. I knew then that being outside would always need to be a big part of my life. That trip taught me a lot about myself and the way I characterize the world, and helped me see things in a different light.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
Paris in Iceland

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I hope that over the next year I gain the ability to be comfortable doing things by myself. I tend to gravitate towards social situations and I love talking to people, but I’d like to be content living, thinking, and traveling on my own. I’m excited to get close with my peers, but I’m also excited to get closer with who I am.

what is one thing you want your future winterline peers to know about you?

I love ultimate frisbee so I’m always ready to throw a disc around!

why winterline?

None of the other programs I looked at even came close to Winterline. Ten countries in nine months? I will likely never get the chance to do that again in my lifetime. It was the only program I wanted and the only one I applied to.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
Paris in her bear hat!

tell us something fun about you!

I have this bear hat I like to wear that basically goes everywhere with me.

Location Spotlight: NOLS Southwest

In the past, Winterline has done backpacking trips with NOLS in Colorado and Wyoming. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these areas, it gets cold in the fall. We are excited that our students will get the chance to hike in a warmer climate; the Southwest of the United States.

Our students will travel from the Sonoran desert in Tucson to the Gila National Forrest of New Mexico (approx. 5-hour drive), where they will begin their backpacking trip with their peers and NOLS instructors. This is a mountainous area with elevations ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 feet and plentiful with Ponderosa pine trees, beautiful plateaus and mesas, and 1,000-year old ruins.

During the trip, students and their leaders will hike on trail, but there will be some opportunities to walk off trail. One benefit of our Southwest NOLS trip is that the weather is more stable than other mountainous areas in the U.S.. This will allow more time for skill building, an emphasis on learning, and is also a great benefit to this shorter backpacking course. Of course, weather is unpredictable so we cannot promise that it’ll be great, but the weather should be better than years’ past.

Students will learn a variety of skills, such as camping, living in the backcountry, self-care in the outdoors, cooking, and navigation. NOLS also has a strong leadership curriculum, and this will be highly emphasized throughout the NOLS trip, as well as the duration of Winterline. As a former NOLS student, the leadership skills and learning opportunities were one of the highlights for me. NOLS really enables students to learn more about themselves and because it takes place in the beginning of the gap year, students are able to develop a sense of community together.

In the words of Ben Venter, Senior Field Instructor for NOLS, “the community that is developed on a NOLS course allows and encourages people to be better versions of themselves and that can then be applied to all realms of their lives… We are constantly thinking of how to make more positive experiences for our students.”

NOLS has plenty of opportunities for both teens and adults, including programs that offer college and continuing education credits. Check it out for yourself!

New Student Spotlight: Yeukai Jiri

THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I’ve known about gap years for a long time, but I grew up with a stereotypical image of them involving backpacking through different countries and being something only wealthy families could afford. This realization that they can be so much more than that happened for me last year when I was researching the different options available, and I decided to take one with Winterline.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

The first reason I’m taking a gap year is that, like many others, I have spent most of my life living the world through textbooks and I now want to experience it for myself. Secondly, there are so many programs and initiatives that are created for young people, which I wanted to take advantage of before it was too late.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am most excited to learn permaculture design and natural building because I’m interested in learning more about the principles of sustainable design and how they are implemented in real life.

Yeukai (center) in her Chinese class!

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

I don’t know what I want to do in the future but I know it’ll be related to sustainable development and my focus will be on Zimbabwe because that’s my country of origin.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I am finishing high school abroad at United World College in Changshu, China. My favorite trip has been our project week in Yangshuo, Guangxi province where my classmates and I experienced a different side of China. We had a 22-hour train ride there and back, which was an intense bonding experience. I loved this trip because we worked with an NGO that appreciated the community, and it was the first time that I had seen scenery similar to the English countryside in China.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I think I will learn a lot about other people’s lives, in the same way that I did at Yangshuo. It will be a chance to see the world in someone else’s eyes and to learn what they love about it, what makes life hard for them and most importantly, what they want to change about it. I also expect to gain a new family, and I can’t wait to meet my cohort!

Yeukai and a couple friends waiting at the airport to pick up summer camp participants!

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

If you guys can help me out with skills like mountain climbing and scuba diving, then I’ve got your back in things like dance and public speaking skills.

WHY WINTERLINE?

Winterline is the perfect way for me to get the most out of my comfort zone, to make new connections with people, and to start engaging with different aspects of development work with the program’s partners.

Yeukai at her Acapella’s group performance.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I’m a Zimbabwean-British student in China, so I can speak conversational Mandarin Chinese and a little bit of my native language Shona. I also enjoy Afrobeat dance and I started an acapella group in my school because I love all things Pentatonix.

To learn more about our students be sure to check out other posts on our blog. We upload new posts three times a week! Also, be sure to catch up with us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

How to Overcome Homesickness

I’ve experienced homesickness in a variety of different contexts, especially since I started traveling independently during high school. I specifically had a difficult time with this during the second trimester of my gap year with Winterline, when we were in Southeast Asia. At that point during the trip, I got sick so many times. Because I was physically uncomfortable for a portion of those couple months, I missed the comforts of my home, my friends and family, and even just the grocery store in my neighborhood. I’ve come up with 10 things that helped me feel more at home, even when I was on the other side of the world.

  • Keep in touch with your friends and family (but not too much). I found that using FaceTime to talk to my parents and best friends from home was a great way to feel like I was still connected to home. But, I’d advise you to do this only about once a week. More than that, and you’re spending too much time in your room and dwelling on your own homesickness!
  • Take a hiatus from social media. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is too real, especially when you miss home. Try to limit your social media usage and be more present where you are. I personally turned off all social media notifications, so I only see posts when I open the apps.

    5 Apps to Help You Learn a New Language
    Get off that phone!
  • Create routine in your life. When you’re traveling, especially with Winterline, you’re constantly moving from point A to point B. I found that by sticking with a routine when I woke up and before I went to bed, I was happier and took better care of myself.
  • Watch your favorite show on Netflix. Okay, I only recommend this if you’re sick in bed and seriously need to just chill out. When I was cooped up in bed, I watched Friends (my favorite show) and it definitely made me feel more comfortable and at-home.
  • Get outside! If you’re missing home, get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Whether it’s taking a hike, renting a kayak, or even just sitting outside, you’ll feel better after you spend some quality time outside. This one always helps me.Winterline Reading
  • Talk to the people you’re with about how you’re feeling. On Winterline, the people you travel with are your family. Take advantage of that! Talk to them about how you’re feeling, and maybe someone else feels the same way and you can help each other get through it. Use the support system you have! The Field Advisors are also trained to help students in a variety of scenarios, so you can always go to them.
  • Exercise. Simple enough, but admittedly hard to maintain while you’re traveling. Yoga, running, and even finding a local workout class or gym are great options. Get your blood pumping and those endorphins will help you feel better and forget about home.

    Hiking on NOLS, Photo by Leela Ray.
  • Overexpose yourself to your surroundings. If you’re really uncomfortable in crowded areas, then spend more time in those settings until you actually feel better about it. You’ll be proud of yourself for overcoming your anxiety and fears associated with whatever is making you uncomfortable. Where you are will start to feel more like your new (temporary) home.
  • Write! Write! Write! This comes up in a lot of my blog posts, but it’s because it works so well and is such a great outlet! I love to keep a journal and write about how I’m feeling, what I experience on a day-to-day basis, etc. It’s a nice way to express what you’re going through if you don’t want to talk to someone about it.

    Journaling is a great outlet, especially while traveling.
  • Put your *positive* energy towards something productive. It’s easy to bog yourself down with negative thoughts and feel sorry for yourself when you’re experiencing homesickness. I found that by focusing on productive things (writing for my blog, learning more about photography, focusing on skills, etc.) while traveling, I became more positive and excited for each new day.

Unfortunately, homesickness is sometimes inevitable, especially when you are thousands of miles away from wherever you call “home.” I hope these tips help, and just remember: you are not alone! You always have a support system during Winterline, and you’ll learn to believe that “home is where the heart is.”

New Student Spotlight: Cristina Hoyos

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

My life is a bit monotonous. It has to do with going to school and then heading back home to work on my duties. The academic burden is so high that there is hardly any free time to do what I really enjoy. I used to think that I would have more free time once I entered the University to do what I really want to do and to go out and explore the world. I was of course mistaken, since everyone agrees that academic burden will be much worse than in high school. And what comes after University is the life of grownups, the life of working for a living.  So, I thought that my only chance for total freedom could only come right after finishing high school; time to fly around the world, to know every corner, and to do everything within my reach to understand what I really want to do in life. Leaving to a country and learning their language seemed interesting, but I just did not want to spend more time in classrooms for a while. I wanted to change my routine but keep on learning through life experiences.  This would really be something entirely different and fulfilling. It was at this point that I asked myself: Why not a gap year? Why not take a long enough gap to really live and to take full advantage of my youth and my energy before I start new chapters?

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I chose to take a gap year for all the reasons I mentioned before and because it is the only thing for which I think it is worth leaving home for a whole year. To get to know the world, to open my mind, to change my routines, to meet new cultures, to leave the perfect bubble where I grew up. The only way to mature and to grow as a person is by leaving home and understanding that the world is much bigger than the very small one where you have spent your entire life as a child. I have always thought that life is made of experiences and memories which cannot possibly be acquired in a classroom, and I want to pursue my belief that one’s problems will always seem smaller if looked at from above.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am very excited about everything related to social work. Also, I want to learn to work as a team, with others and for others, and to develop my skills for problem solving. I want to find out how to become a leader in a small group of people who are to live together for a long period of time, all of us going through the same situations.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

In the future I want to dedicate myself to change. I want to create a movement, small at first, which can be copied or replicated in other environments until it becomes a revolution. This change is mostly related to education, especially in Colombia, where there is a huge imbalance between public and private education. I want to devote my efforts to changing the educational system which exists currently, and for this purpose I feel that I should have from now on a type of education different from traditional education.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I have traveled quite a bit during my life, maybe 3 or 4 times every year. It would be very difficult to pick just one trip, as each one has been unique in its own way. In my country, Colombia, my favorite trip was to Choco, where I not only saw beautiful natural settings but also native communities that keep their town in perfect condition without help from the State, and live very proudly of the work they have done together.

Outside Colombia my favorite trip was a student exchange program in 2015, when I was in Europe for a period of five months, first in Switzerland with my friends from school and then by myself with a German family. It was an unforgettable experience that helped me realize the enormous diversity in the world which is impossible to see from one’s birth place, and also made me appreciate my home values while living far away.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I expect to gain independence, self assurance, and confidence in my own decisions. I hope to be able to manage problems and conflicts under circumstances other than I am accustomed.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am really looking forward to living this experience with them; I don’t know them yet, but I know that in the future we will all be like a family. I am an open minded person and I love to engage in all kinds of different activities and to say yes to all opportunities that turn up. I don’t like to keep still and I make friends easily, which is typical of Colombians.

WHY WINTERLINE?

A friend of mine, Daniela Mallarino, went with Winterline two years ago, and from that moment I knew that’s what I wanted to do as well. I think it is a very complete and varied program, which is exactly what I am looking for. The program offers many options and its philosophy fully fits my life style: to learn through experience, to meet new environments, to do things that I never expected I would be doing. The organization seems very reliable and has been very helpful from the start. Every person I have talked to has told me that the Winterline program was the best decision they could have made and their best choice in every aspect.

Travel Bloggers to Follow on Instagram

Jackson Harries

@jackharries

This photographer actually took a gap year in Thailand, and after that year he has focused his efforts towards film and environmentalism.

Brian Kelly

@thepointsguy

I personally follow Brian, and his page is awesome! He is constantly sharing new travel tips, and amazing photos and videos from his trips.

Love Letter to Europe

@lovelettertoeurope

Another one of my personal favorite travel accounts. Every post is what their name describes… A love letter to Europe. They post incredible photos, and definitely inspire my next Europe trip.

Stephanie Be

@stephbetravel

Stephanie took a gap year to travel early on in her career, and she never stopped! Her gap year is her career now. Follow her for beautiful destinations photos, and motivation to travel no matter where you are in life!

Dame Traveler

@dametraveler

This blog is incredible. Not only does it share breathtaking photos, but its goal is to inspire and empower womento “travel more, do more & be more.” It’s my personal favorite!

 

Winterline Global Skills!

@winterline_global_skills

Nothing wrong with a little self-promotion! We post pictures and videos every day. Most of our content is curated by our talented students, so definitely hit us with that follow.