Every family has their own summer traditions and one of our shelter's favorites is taking the kids to the beach. With expanding our shelter and opening a new location, we get to take two trips to the beach this year. The teen house spent the week playing in the sun, sand and surf and staff member Courtney Tidwell shares their experience. 

"I started at Palmetto Place last August, right after the kids came back from last year's trip. I hadn't even been here a week before the teens came to me with ideas for next year. They've been preparing for this trip ever since. 

Anytime the beach was mentioned, faces would light up and I would hear about how excited they were to go back. This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to chaperone the trip to what sounded like a magical place...and it was nothing short of that.

Monday morning rolled around and we packed the vans full of beach bags and supplies before we set off. On the nearly three hour drive we all sang along to my "oldies" (early 2000s) hits playlist. 

We arrive in the early afternoon and before I could ask, "Would you like to go swimming?" the teens were changed and headed towards the pool. The teens transformed into beach locals instantly with their sunscreen, big hats, and cover ups. The worries and stresses of being a homeless teen melted away in the early afternoon sun. I had no idea that so many of our teens were talented swimmers. They would yell, "Miss Courtney, watch this!" before doing flips, handstands, and races.

The next morning the teens made breakfast before packing their bags for the beach. While they enjoyed the sand and surf, they kept talking about the pools at the resort. That night before dinner they went exploring and were thrilled to find a pool that had a deep end of 13 feet. We played and splashed all day long. 

One of my favorite memories from the trip is dinner that night. Looking over the menu I was asked, "What's a brussel sprout?" I couldn't believe they've never had a brussel sprout and we ordered some for the table. They quickly proclaimed, "This was the first and last time I'll eat a brussel sprout."  As we left the restaurant I believe one teen was still talking about the taste lingering on their tongue.

On our ride back to Columbia, I was already hearing plans for next year's trip. I'm so grateful that we are able to provide our children with this experience year after year." 

Our children's shelter will take their trip to the beach in the coming weeks and we can't wait to share their experiences with you as well. If you're interested in making a contribution to our beach trip expenses you can donate here

Special thanks to the Day Family for making this trip possible each year. We're so thankful to have you in our village.