Elephants Never Forget, and Neither will Claire

Imagine riding an exotic animal, through a foreign environment, with people you’ve just met.

Senior, Claire Cornetet did just that in a trip to Thailand last summer through Rustic Pathways. Rustic Pathways is an organization that allows mostly high school students to choose an adventure in one of 17 countries.  Most trips are taken over the summer, but there are some options for spring breaks, and gap year studies.

Claire went on an adventure called “Elephants and Amazing Thailand” which means she was able to learn about many different parts of Thailand, and take part in the Elephant Conservation Project. Along with 20 other people, Claire was able to feed, ride, bathe, and care for the elephants. At the end, each member of the group was awarded a certificate showing their experiences and achievements.

When asked about the most exciting thing about her trip, Claire explained that it was, “Riding our elephants three hours into the jungle, building what we slept on out of bamboo, and camping out for the night with our elephants and mahouts.” A mahout is a trained elephant specialist/ keeper that led the students on the adventures.

The most memorable thing for her about the elephants was “Riding them to the close lake to bathe them twice a day. My elephant loved the water and would dunk us all the way under and roll around onto his back.”

Her biggest take away from the whole experience was “seeing how happy all the Thai people were–happiest people I’ve ever met, always goofing around and laughing when they had nothing,” she said. “It made me realize I don’t really need half the things I have.”
 “I am planning on going to Fiji or New Zealand this summer,” explains Claire.

 There were about 20 people in her group, all American high school students. She received 28 community service hours, because of her work with “one of the finest elephant care, study, and management facilities in the world.”

Eleventh grader Sarah Karp is already planning her trip this summer through the same company to work with orphans in India.
If you are interested in going on a trip with Rustic Pathways, see Claire Cornetet or Sarah Karp  for more information. You can also visit the Rustic Pathways website to find out information about the individual programs.