One of our primary goals for all expedition trips is to provide an immersive outdoor experience that will challenge and educate our students about the outdoors, while also building a strong community in our group. New Zealand was special because we were able to bring our participants into a wide variety of climates, terrains, cultures, and outdoor activities due to the massive environmental diversity that the South Island offers. For instance, in a single day, we experienced a hike in cold, rainy mountain weather to a lake with icebergs, followed by a warm, lazy afternoon sunbathing in a beautiful grassy field full of wildflowers. As we traveled around the South Island, we also had the opportunity to sea kayak in a fjord surrounded by towering peaks and hike up a muddy cliffside to a beautiful clear waterfall.
The New Zealand Expedition was a unique opportunity for students, and the creative process behind the event reflected that. The outdoor adventure team assisted the marketing team in researching the New Zealand landscape and gathering information about the trip. After the research aspect was complete, the marketing team made decisions on what needed to be included in the design. Once the design began, the marketing team continued to work closely with outdoor adventure to ensure the accuracy of the location and information. After the design was sent for approval, the marketing team worked to showcase this trip through posters, flyers, TV Ads, and social media promotion.
The main challenge faced was the lack of information on pricing. The marketing team was on stand-by as the outdoor adventure team finalized the prices, which meant the design was not able to be sent out. The price of the trip was not finalized until 2-weeks before the interview deadline. The marketing for the New Zealand Expedition was only out for 2-weeks, as the entire trip filled up fast. Trips abroad involve the interview process because students must be approved to travel based on criteria which includes health considerations. Because of this the marketing was released months before the trip rather than weeks like our in-state and regional trips.
One of the primary goals of many of our participants was to immerse themselves in the culture of New Zealand, and to learn more about the Maori, the country's indigenous people. We accomplished this through the format of our trip, a road trip, as we were able to stop along the way and had maximum flexibility in our plans. We met lots of interesting Kiwis and got to experience a variety of museums and cultural sites.
Above all, we did a good job building a strong, supportive community within our participants and leadership crew. We encouraged each other on challenging hikes and paddles and fostered a strong sense of adaptability when plans had to change. Community and friendship were the primary takeaways from our participant evaluations at the end of the trip.
It's hard to say if there were direct impacts beyond the participants on our trip, as we only had two months of trips before we were shut down for COVID. However, I think the allure and interest in the New Zealand trip contributed to the interest in our Spring Break trips, which were the last ones we led before remote learning. We led two trips this Spring Break, both of which were full and offered very different experiences for students.