Visiting our New York Campuses

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Creating communities is one of our company’s core values, which is why we go to great lengths to build strong relationships with students that join our program. Like other companies, most of our communication is done via either email, phone, and video platforms, but what makes Choose a Challenge different are in-person trips like these that often make the experience “real” for our student leaders in the early stages of involvement. With that in mind, we loaded up with Red Hot Chili Peppers music, pretzel rods, and plenty of coffee, and set off during the last week of April to visit some of the Choose a Challenge family across several campuses in upstate New York!

First Stop: Ithaca, NY

Outside Cornell Outdoor Education

Outside Cornell Outdoor Education

Places Visited: Cornell University & the Finger Lakes

After surviving the traffic we all know and love heading out of New York City, we traded our urban surroundings for the beautiful scenery of The Finger Lakes. Driving along the rolling green hills of the surrounding Ithaca area before descending into the college town made for a perfect beginning to an exciting day of meeting current & future team leaders and brand ambassadors at Cornell University. It had been several months since we were last on Cornell’s campus and this visit served as a wonderful reminder of just how gorgeous it is. However, we couldnt stay too long as this was just our first stop, so after we saw all of our involved students, we knew it was time to move on to our next stop…

Second Stop: Pittsford, NY

Places Visited: Nazareth College, Alladin’s Natural Eatery

Nazareth College

Nazareth College

While our time driving to Ithaca and exploring Cornell University’s campus included plenty of scenic views, driving along the edge of Cayuga Lake on our way north was another experience all-together. Now in the midst of rural upstate New York , it was refreshing to have an unobstructed view of the (very) long lake to our right and a wide expanse of farmland in every direction; again, we couldn’t ask for a much more scenic journey to our next destination.

Our next objective was to meet one of our newest Campus Leaders who will be leading a team from Nazareth College (Pittsford, NY). With our leader’s recommendation, we all met at Alladin’s Natural Eatery for a well-deserved dinner overlooking the Erie Canal (something we were oddly excited to see). After discussing what the year ahead could look like and how we could bring our adventure travel program to Nazareth, we said our farewells and headed to off to Rochester.

Third Stop: Geneseo, NY

Places Visited: Geneseo

We spent the night enjoying what Rochester had to offer (which turned out to be quite a lot) and marveling that our hotel, which was labeled a “fallout shelter”, was actually a very nice place for us to stay. The next morning, we did a little bit of backtracking as we headed to the small town of Geneseo to meet our current leader there and speak to some potential new leaders as well. While this isn’t one of the largest schools we’ve worked at, Geneseo proved to be a large source of interested students this year for us. We were happy walking away from our meetings there feeling confident that our program is in good hands going forward.

Fourth Stop: Albany, NY

Places Visited: University at Albany

University at Albany

University at Albany

For our final stop before heading back to the city, we shifted course and made a last-minute drive east to the University at Albany where we met with a new prospective Campus Leader for next year’s trips. Over a cup of coffee, we discussed how our program would work at this campus and what our potential student leader could do to make that happen. Keeping with our company value of creating communities, we’ve noticed that when we have these face-to-face meetings we really get to connect in a way that just can’t be done over phone or over video chat. As with all of our meetings thus far, we walked away buzzing after hearing from someone so passionate about our program and devoted to the opportunity to travel while giving back. Then we began our trek home.

Bonus: One highlight of the day was seeing one of our Choose a Challenge founders, Dan Quille, our “designated chauffeur” for the trip, get absolutely giddy when he saw a sign for the town of “Dansville”. Personally, this is one of my favorite aspects of going on one of our road trips, because no matter how long your trip is, it will always be full of little moments that you will realize are just as special as the destinations you will reach.

final thoughts

This whole trip was about building upon the relationships we have with those that have joined our program, so in that regard this was a successful trip. We met several students who have either already participated in our program and are set to travel with us or have signed on to join us on a future trip as members of the Choose a Challenge family. In addition to these in-person encounters, we were also treated to some amazing scenic locations during our journey, which are vastly different than the everyday skyscrapers, hustle and bustle of New York City.

P.S. If you’re reading this as a member of our program who hasn’t had a visit yet, we are serious about creating these communities and we believe the best way to do so is in person; this is just the first of many trips we’ll take to see you!

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