If you’re the coach of competitive athletes, chances are you’re familiar with long road trips to weekend games, or even the occasional flight to regional tournaments. Playing sports is a huge commitment, and athletes often miss out on other types of travel opportunities because of their dedication to the game.
At Rustic Pathways, coaches and athletic directors can combine passion for sport, travel, and community service into one trip where athletes can bond over assisting local communities with important projects, learning cross-cultural sportsmanship through games with locals, and exploring incredible sites around them.
Whether it’s a middle school swim team or high school soccer team, here are five benefits of taking your group of athletes on a purposeful and immersive travel program:
Traveling together has immense impact on a group of young athletes. The bonds created through participating in a ropes course challenge in the jungle, mixing cement for a water tank in a local village, or hosting a sports clinic for younger students can benefit teams throughout the season. The opportunity to spend time with players away from the pressures of school and life back home can help coaches get to know their players on an individual level, and allow space for teammates to bond while sharing a unique and life-changing experience.
2. Cross-Cultural Connections
Athletes don’t need to speak a common language to communicate their love for the game. Playing with and against teams from other cultures can highlight what a particular sport means to a community, and how that relates to playing back home. Coaches and players might even pick up some new friends, and language skills, along the way.
3. New Competition
Playing sports in another country means new competition and a chance to gain new skills. Whether it’s a game of baseball in the Dominican Republic, rugby in Fiji, volleyball in Cambodia, or soccer in Costa Rica, there’s a unique opportunity to share strategies from athletes around the world who’ve grown up playing the sport and learn moves that teams can eventually use on their home court.
4. Break from Routine
Many student athletes want to go on international trips organized by their schools, but tournaments, practices, and weekend games keep them from participating. Organizing a team trip allows players and coaches to combine travel, sports, and community service during times of the year that are most convenient for the team. Between classes, homework, sports, and a social life, athletes live a regimented lifestyle, and this is an opportunity for them to have the same kinds of experiences other classmates have.
5. Growth in Other Areas
Playing sports in high school has been proven to build character, but why not take it a step further? Rustic Pathways programs are designed with specific Student Learning Outcomes in mind, like grit, independence, and openness to new ideas and experiences. By traveling on a program that combines immersive service learning with sports clinics and games, students will be challenged to gain skills on and off the field.
Contact Rustic Pathways Group Travel to learn more about traveling with your team. Our travel experts can answer your questions and help you identify the right program experience for your athletes.
Going on her father’s university field trips to Costa Rica as a child, Ellery learned the value of experiential education and travel at an early age. She has been working in travel, adventure, and education since before she graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in culture, health, and the environment. Before assuming her role on the program staffing and training team, she worked as the New Orleans Program Manager, led programs for Rustic in five countries, and spent two years in Ethiopia as a Peace Corps volunteer.