If there’s one thing that can bring a community closer, it’s a trip out of town together.
At least that’s what Kamika Foster, 26, of Commission Street in Nicetown believes.
For eight years now, members of the Nicetown community have organized a yearly ski trip to an assortment of destinations like the Poconos, Massachusetts and Vermont. This year, instead of visiting one of the group’s usual destinations, the group will travel to Woodbury, Conn., for a weekend.
“It’s a nice way for people in our community to get away of our own neighborhood and our own problems and just get out of town together for a weekend,” Foster, who is in her first year organizing the trip said. “My mom started organizing this trip years ago and she passed the responsibilities onto me this year to make sure that we keep the tradition going.”
“On our first trip there were just a couple of us who thought it would be a fun time so we rented a small van and drove up to the Poconos,” Foster said. “Now we have at least 50 people come on the trip each year, so now we have to get a luxury bus instead and just have a good time.”
The Fosters make it easy for their newest travel partners by leaving pick-up up to J and J Luxury Buses and the trip planning to the experts. The bus company picks each of the travelers up at his or her doorstep to insure everything is as stress free as possible. Once the passsengers take their seats on the bus, the driver in this case, Marcos Przarro, is there to satisfy their every transportation whim.
“The goal is to make the travelers as comfortable as possible,” said Przarro “It’s easy to pick them each up because they’re all living in this same community. Once we get to the destination they sort of break up into groups and I do my best to keep up with them. I’ll take them wherever they need to go. Some people like to go skiing, others just want to hang out in the lodge. Wherever they go, they all seem to have fun together though.”
During the conversation with Przarro, members of the group wandered on and off the bus to make sure they had everything they needed, Foster’s mother Wanda stood on the curb mixing the traditional takeoff concoction made of rainbow sherbet, pineapple soda and ice.
“This right here is just as important as anything else that we’re going to bring,” the elder Foster said. “We start the trip each year by making a big batch of this for everyone to enjoy on the ride.”
As she churned a large clump of rainbow sherbet in an attempt to smooth out the groups traditional refreshment, a young man popped his head out of the bus and asked, “Ms. Foster how long until we leave?”
With the anticipation beaming from his face, Foster disappointed the young man with the vague reply of “just a couple more minutes.”
Not satisfied with the response, 16 year-old Michael Bailey stepped off of the bus and stood behind Foster in an attempt to speed up the process.
“I’m ready to get going!” said Bailey, who’s going on the trip for the fist time. “This will be my first time skiing, and the first time I’m on a bus that’s not on its way to school or making stops every few seconds, so I’m really excited.”
A few minutes later as Ms. Foster put the lid on the rainbow sherbet float and asked everyone on the board if they had everything they needed for the weekend; the significance of the trip became magnified on the face of Michael Bailey.
With the excitement permeating from his face as he jumped back on the bus and quickly rushed to his window seat in the rear, you could begin to fully understand the importance that the trip had on not just individuals, but also the community as a whole.
“The trip has really grown in the community,” Wanda Foster said. “And I don’t think it’s just because it gives people the chance to go skiing. I think what has really helped this grow is the chance that everybody gets to build bonds with other people in the community that they wouldn’t have made otherwise by going somewhere together.”
Therein lays the genius with what the Fosters have started. By bringing people together outside of the community, they have found a way to bring them together inside it as well.