TRAVELTEER: Where Travel Meets Volunteering

1 With the first official weekend of Travelteer coming to a close, I am both reflective on and excited to share the experiences that I have had so far here in Charleston. Participating in such a diverse array of volunteer activities in the past two days alone, I am constantly reinvigorated by these new challenges to make the biggest impact possible. Starting Saturday morning, we woke up early to participate in the Walk for Water, Water Missions 10th annual walk, in order to raise awareness for the necessity of clean drinking water. With the help of a lot of coffee and great teamwork, we managed to direct parking for the thousands of people who were participating in the cause.
After getting everyone situated, we joined in on the 3.5-mile walk to simulate what 1.8 billion people around the world have to go through in order to get a basic necessity of life. Getting to the halfway point, filling our buckets full of dirty water, and then finishing the walk to see the filtration system swiftly turn it into safe drinking water was a marvel! We stayed for some of the festivities following the walk at Riverdog Stadium, there was even a chance the man, the myth, the legend – Charlestonian Bill Murray, part-owner of the baseball team, would show up! Sadly he was nowhere to be found despite a rumor he was dressed as the Riverdog mascot. The search for Bill goes on!

2 Following the huge event, we did not want to waste the gorgeous day and the (surprising) energy we were feeling. We took my co-volunteer Anthony’s advice and went out to Sullivan’s Island to experience how Charlestonians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. PREDICTION – I’m guessing it involves a lot of alcohol. Sure enough, we got out to the island and everyone was hanging out with a specialty beer (or two) in hand. The community felt so alive! Laid back locals coming in and out of unique restaurants lining the streets, not mention it all being only two blocks from the beach – how could we not join in the festivities. We decided to eat at Poe’s Tavern, a culinary ode to Edgar Allan Poe’s classic catalogue of literature, paying homage to the legendary writer’s stay on the Island. I had the Gold Bug Burger, topped with Pimento cheese of course – it was absolutely delicious! With a cup of Charleston’s Own Palmetto Brewing Huger IPA in hand, we explored the vivacious scene, but soon got distracted from the crowd by the Charleston Light Lighthouse towering in the distance. We made our way to Sullivan’s Beach, frolicking on the beach at low tide and managed to make it just in time for that quintessential sunset picture too!

3 Another early morning this Sunday, somehow losing 2 hours of sleep – an hour we never even had because we planned on the clock going back for some reason…an assumption we were surprised to see backfire when 2 AM turned 3 AM instead of 1 AM! We weren’t going to let a little sleep deprivation get in the way of volunteering, so we set out at 9:00 AM for Lowcountry Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (LEAP), a horse therapy facility out towards Wadmalaw Island. We quickly got to work cutting mats and transforming dirt stalls into luxurious resting places for our horse friends! After finishing that project, we helped fix up the fence so the horses could have more grazing room and of course, chow down on some fresh grass. In between working, we talked with Dr. Boughan, founder & head clinician at LEAP, about the cause. She gave us personal accounts of the benefits of equine therapy for everything from anxiety disorders and PTSD to marriage counseling and at-risk children. With this new understanding, I couldn’t help but see horses in a new light and it truly helped me value their relationship with humans and the potential impact they could have on patients. I soon took a liking to one horse in particular, ol’ Blue, who while talking with Dr. Boughan, kept coming up and nudging me. I think that means I love you in horse, but I could be wrong.

4 After saying our goodbyes, we stopped at The Angel Tree, a 1500-year-old tree outside of Charleston and were amazed by its beauty…although as someone who never grew out of their love for tree climbing, it was the most frustrating experience of my life to hear that scaling the massive arching limbs wasn’t allowed. Typing this now at the hotel, I cannot wait to see what experiences still lie ahead at Low County Food Bank tomorrow (and the rest of the week for that matter). As for now, I am signing off and heading to explore more of the many diverse adventures Charleston has to offer – and hopefully, find some good local eats for dindin in the process!