Ecuador, Haiti, London and Florida sites of PC Winterim trips

by Claire Milligan/

Abbie Altena/

Austin Dart/

Kaylee Bandstra/

Winterim offers many options for students, including multiple educational trips. This year, trips included Ecuador, Haiti, London, and Florida.

With street evangelizing in villages and lodging in the Amazon Rainforest, the Winterim Ecuador trip was quite the adventure. Led by biology teacher Audra Faber and Spanish teacher Joni Vander Pol, 20 students and three adults embarked on the wild ride through Ecuador.

From landing to departure, the group spent ten days in Ecuador and did various activities including touring Quito, zip-lining, hiking in the Amazon, and eating guinea pig. “One of my favorite experiences was visiting with some kids in a mountain community,” said junior Annaliese Admiraal. “I was able to get to know so many people and have fun with them with the little amount of time that we had that day.”

After a trip to a developing country, one is sure to walk away with a new perspective on life and a new sense of joy. “Where the world’s idea of beauty ends, God’s beauty strengthens,” said junior Halie Vermillion. “We have two choices in life: to see a dandelion field and just notice a bed of weeds or to see a bed of wildflowers. It’s up to you to change your perspective.”

Others learned what is important in life. “The people there had real joy while the American dream is only to find happiness,” said junior Sydney Hooyer. “We are focused on a fading emotion. Where we find happiness is in the best clothes or a big house. Here, there was joy in Christ and what He has done for them.”

The travelers remained positive despite some illness during the trip. While the cause was unknown, 16 group members fell ill from causes like altitude sickness, motion sickness, the heat index and exhaustion, viruses, or even a new diet. “The chaperones did a great job at leading everyone and nurturing them the best they could with the circumstances,” said junior Catelynn McCroskey.


Service work, interacting with Haitian children and visiting historic sites were part of the Winterim trip to Haiti.

This year’s Haiti group consisted of 11 students and 4 adults.  During their eight days in Haiti, students enjoyed touring the Citadel and being the first group to go to the Queen’s Palace, painting a local house, interacting with the kids in Sylvain, and having fun with the group.

Some students realized and were a little annoyed that roosters like to start the day before they wanted to. “I enjoyed waking up to the crow of roosters at 5 a.m.–it really made my day. On a more serious note, I loved walking the streets of Sylvain with all the joyful neighborhood children,” said junior Sienna Attema.

Students learned lessons in being joyful in all circumstances and that God is so much bigger than our problems. Also, the experience as a whole was extremely humbling for the whole group. “I learned that they really don’t have much and are so happy. There are a lot of homes that aren’t finished, and they are totally okay with it,” said senior Morgan Fopma. “I also learned that Levi has Bandaids and Neosporin in his backpack, so if you ever get a cut, hit him up.”


The Arc de Triomphe in Paris was just one site visited by PC students this Winterim.

A 20-person group of students and chaperones enjoyed a 10-day trip to England and France, viewing the Eiffel Tower and visiting Buckingham Palace. With theater director Marlo Van Peursem leading the trip, there was sure to be an emphasis on theatrical performances, which is why The Phantom of the Opera, Mousetrap, and Aladdin were all viewed by the members of this trip, bringing out emotion and enjoyment in everyone. “The most memorable event was The Phantom of the Opera. It was amazing. I cried,” junior Mason Donelson said.

Paris, France, was also full of sights to behold. Junior Cameron Vander Wal said the Eiffel Tower was his favorite place on the trip. Other places the group went in Paris include Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe.

Of the 12 students to go on the trip, junior Austin Dart was pickpocketed, losing over $100. “Despite this inconvenience, the trip was still amazing and unforgettable. I still vividly recall Abbey Road and the other places we went too,” Dart said.


Twelve students learned more about marine biology and swam with sea animals during the Winterim trip to Florida

The trip to Florida, from Saturday, January 5, to Saturday, January 12, was led by chemistry and physics teacher Greg Beekhuizen, along with his wife and one parent of a student on the trip. Twelve students got the chance to end their winter break by swimming and interacting with different animals, shopping, and enjoying the warm weather in the Sunshine State.  

Discovery Cove in Orlando was a favorite place the students visited, where they rented cabanas near an artificial reef and got to snorkel with live manta rays and colorful fish. “I was in the Grand Reef snorkeling when a group of seven manta rays swam about two inches under me,” said sophomore Dylan Eekhoff. “This impacted upon me the beauty of God’s creation.”  They enjoyed swimming with a dolphin there as well.

The main focus of this trip was to learn about marine biology and the ocean. “I learned about the pollution in the ocean, and I learned about how good sharks are for the ecosystem,” said junior Matthew Bokhoven.


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