You Can Do Anything 

You Can Do Anything 

Camille Greening

Australia | Awesome Aussie Service 2018

Thailand | Ricefields, Monks, and Smiling Children 2019

Camille is a junior in high school | Class 2022

All photos have been provided by Camille. Read her story below!

You can do anything. That is what I have learned on my two (would have been three without COVID!) Rustic Pathways trips to Australia and Thailand. Being painfully shy around new people, I thought I wouldn’t be able to get on the plane that would take me 8,000 miles across the world to Australia, somewhere I had been dreaming about for years.

Nevertheless, I mustered up the courage to get on that flight. Twelve hours later I landed in the Land Down Under where I spent two of the best weeks of my life running a day camp for local children, meeting animals at the Australia Zoo, and removing invasive species from the banks of the Sunshine Coast. I learned about the culture of the country from our Aussie leader, who taught us “heaps” of slang along the way as well. I learned I could get up close and personal with a kangaroo, stand up on a surfboard, and spend the night in the bush surrounded by bats and kookaburras. I learned how much I loved community service.

Most importantly, though, I learned I could survive something as scary as being on the other side of the world away from my parents as a fourteen-year-old who hadn’t even stepped foot into high school yet. Because I could do this, I knew I could do virtually anything. This realization helped me gain a newfound confidence that would carry me through my freshman year of high school.

The next summer I decided to go on a more service-intensive trip to Thailand, as the previous summer helped me discover my love for helping others. However, when I arrived after two days of traveling to Udon Thani, I learned of all the projects we would be completing over the next two weeks. My chest swelled with anxiety, as these projects were nothing like the ones we did in Australia. We would be mixing and laying cement, building a wall for an elementary school, helping Thai teens learn English, painting a house for a local family, and a plethora of other challenging things.

At that moment I thought I could not do it, that I needed to go home, that I was too far from my family, that I wouldn’t make any friends. My shyness and anxiety were creeping back in. Then I remembered the previous summer: I was a whole year younger then and I had already made it through two weeks away from my family on the other side of the world. I thought back to my awesome time in Australia and felt my anxiety start to slowly wash away.

I ended up having even more fun that summer, as the intense humidity and physical labor just enriched my experience and made it that much better. I met and worked alongside the kindest people from all over the country, as the difficulty of the projects brought us close really quickly. My leaders were native to Thailand and taught us so much about the culture, the food, and the people. The hardest day of the trip was the day we left!

Now, over a year later as I am in my junior year of high school in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, I think back to my experiences with Rustic Pathways to remind myself that I can get through this. Rustic Pathways has provided me with the grit and self-assurance I need to get through this unprecedented time while simultaneously going through the hardest year of high school. That being said, my experience with Rustic is not just going to help me this year but will in the future when I go to college and even after that. I have learned that I can survive—no, thrive—in unfamiliar environments. I am so grateful for these experiences and will always carry them with me as I continue to grow up. My Rustic trips have helped shape me into the resilient, hard-working person I am today, and I am forever grateful to have learned that I can do anything.

Learn more about Rustic Pathways programs in Thailand, or view more Alumni Stories here