Much has been said about Americans not having passports. Depending on who you ask, only 20%-30% of US citizens have a valid passport.
What would happen if you get passports into the hands of American girls?
One person is taking the challenge head-on and trying to get pre-teen and teenage girls to get their first passport.
Tracey of OneBrownGirl and OBG Adventure Camps is on a mission (solo so far) to get more girls to get their passports. Passports increase your options for where you can be in the world. Even more importantly, it helps you NOT put limitations on yourself. With a passport you can be anywhere on the planet, being whoever you want to be. In the hands of a young girl, it can be a powerful tool to help build self-esteem and confidence as they enter young adulthood.
Brian: How many girls have you helped so far get passports?
B: What is your goal for the upcoming year?
T: 100 in the next 18 months
B: How do you find/pick girls to help? Is there an application process or do people just find you and you help them get passports? For those girls you have helped, what changes have you noticed in their lives?
T: The first Passport Party was just a few weeks ago; so they are still in the process of getting their passports. Hope to be able to answer that question in a few months. =) Do their parents/guardians/friends/relatives show in interest in travel and getting their own passports? The hope is that if the kids get them, that they will encourage everyone around them to get one too.
B: Do you get resistance from people? Things like, “Why do girls need passports? or Why does anyone need a passport?”
T: Not at all. I think people like free stuff. LOL Although I do get resistance when it’s time to let them travel (thru my camp), but that’s another story entirely. *see below for more*
B: How can companies and individuals help?
T: People can help in various ways: 1. Individuals can pool together to donate even just one passport. $20 x 5 people + $5 1 extra person = $105, the cost of a passport. 2. Travel brands can sponsor, fund, donate. 3. Bloggers can write about the project and spread the news. Travel bloggers, mom bloggers, etc. 4. As a culmination of events, I would ideally like to have a Grand Prize that rewards 1 girl from each of the 10 Passport Parties with an all expense trip to an overseas destination so that each girl can get her first stamp. Brilliant media opportunity. Great for a tourist Board or other travel brand sponsor.
B: I know there is the Facebook page, but do you have a website? Any plans for one?
T: Right now, since it is such a grassroots project, the Web page is here As the program grows, so does the site. =)
B: A brief blurb about the camp you created the girls actually travel with – How many girls have you taken on trips? What destinations in the past? What are your future destinations?
T: OBG Adventure Camps are travel and learning adventure programs for girls 11-16 that travel to waterfront locations with a focus on environmental engagement, cultural appreciation and outdoor fun! First travel camp was CampCaribe 2010, which is annual spring camp to US Virgin Islands here and here ; second travel camp was Houseboat Mini-Camp 2010 to Lake Shasta. Third travel camp was CampCaribe 2011 and fourth travel camp will be Lake Tahoe Mini Camp 2011. Leaving tomorrow for Kauai where I will scout out a location for CampHawaii which will debut in the Summer of 2012. Going to Martha’s Vineyard in October to scout out location for an East Coast Mini-Camp which will likely debut at some point in 2012. I think it’s kinda cool that the start of CampCaribe can be found on Oprah’s Angel Network and the start of The Passport Party Project can be found on TBEX. Great to have a place to go back to when I’m feeling frustrated or simply need a nice boost. =)
Future destinations other than Hawaii and Martha’s Vineyard depend upon how the program grows. This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Thanks Tracey and the best of luck to you and your fledgling organizations. If you want to help Tracey please connect with her using any of the links in this post.