While many Robins students spend the summer before their senior year commuting to internships in big cities, Joe Edwards, ’18, had something different in mind.

“I snorkeled with sea turtles in coral reefs, surfed, windsurfed, rappelled down waterfalls, and went on sea kayaking excursions,” Edwards said.

He spent the summer as the accountant and group leader for an adventure travel company for middle and high school students in Maui, Hawaii, called Moondance Adventures.

The summer began with a 12-day training camp in Asheville, N.C., in May.

“We spent most of our days learning what went into the certain trips we'd be leading and also continued group building exercises to grow as a team,” Edwards said.

Then, he and two other group leaders hopped on a plane to Maui. They were together for the whole summer.

“Leadership and teamwork were huge components of my job,” Edwards said. “All of the group projects and presentations we do in the business school definitely helped me coexist with my coleaders while creating a fun and successful atmosphere for our trip.”

After three days getting acclimated, his first group of teenagers arrived. Each session lasted for two weeks, with 12 kids in each cohort.

“We volunteered with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, did a lot of hiking with the kids, and explained the formation of the islands to them by showing them the two volcanoes that made up Maui.  We would camp under the stars at our campsites, so the job was 24/7,” Edwards said.

On top of all this, he was also responsible for managing the money for the entire team.

“We had a budget of almost $10,000 for the duration of the summer. My classes at the Robins School helped me stay disciplined in tracking our spending, as well as budgeting,” Edwards said. “We needed to use the money for food, gas, extra activities, baggage fees, medical emergencies, etc., and it had to last us until we went home.”

Edwards learned a lot about himself on the trip, including how to recognize his limits.

“I was constantly working, and it was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding experiences I've ever had. I learned how to work in a team setting and how to reason with my other leaders,” which he thinks will help him later on in a professional setting.

“Some of the most difficult times were when we as leaders disagreed about a certain thing. We had to effectively communicate our thoughts and figure out the best solution. Instead of in a classroom or an office, we had just come back from a physically grueling hike and hadn’t gotten much sleep. Even in those circumstances, we worked it out. That experience helped us grow as individuals, while ensuring a great experience for the kids on our trip.”

Edwards, ’18, is a business administration major at the Robins School. To learn more about Moondance, visit their website.