Climbing the highest mountain in Africa might not be the first activity that comes to mind when planning a spring break trip, or even a summer getaway. But what if I told you the adventure halfway across the world is potentially free? Pull out those planners--it's time to take a trip.
Flying Kites' Adventure Challenges program organizes excursions to far-off places with one goal in mind: to live beyond yourself. The organization coordinates multiple trips throughout the year--to Kilimanjaro and beyond--intended to push participants to their limits both physically and mentally, all in the name of giving back. The money raised by each traveler, (somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000), funds Flying Kites' education and shelter efforts for abandoned children in rural Kenya. By rallying friends, family and other sponsors around your wish to change the lives of those in need, you've got yourself an inspiring (and free) trip.
25-year-old Mike Chambers joined Flying Kites as their Adventure Challenges program director last fall. After graduating from St. Lawrence University, he says he found himself "wandering aimlessly in the 'real world.' ... I always knew I wanted to do something different with my life, something more meaningful. Flying Kites Adventure Challenges is that 'something.'"
Mike just returned from their most recent trip to climb Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Before heading on their journey, travelers visited the Flying Kites Children's Home to meet with the kids they'd be climbing for, where each climber was assigned a specific child. A few days later, the trek to the summit began and though the travelers were tested, they remained determined.
"Summit night proved to be one of the most challenging twelve hours of my life. At one point I recall hearing one of my fellow climbers reciting the names of some of the Flying Kites children with each step she took," said Mike.
"We finally reached the summit at 7 a.m., all 11 of us, just as the sun broke through the Serengeti. Our accomplishment was much deeper than a successful summit, it was the knowledge that our efforts were truly making a difference in the lives of our children."
And on that note, Flying Kites' next Kilimanjaro trip is on my calendar. Are you in?