TTS22 Group photo

Monday, August 26, 2013

(mini) Update from Abroad

Hello TTS22 fans~

I had my first check-in with Brenna over the weekend and things sound great.  Everyone is adjusting to the new time zone and living in a group out of duffel bags in tents and experiencing new foods.  Lots of changes all happening at once!  The group is in the South Africa Standard Time Zone, which is 6 hours ahead of the East Coast Time Zone and 9 hours ahead of the Pacific Time Zone.  So, while I am finishing up my lunch at 1:15 pm Mountain Time, TTS22 is winding down for the evening (either telling stories or finishing study hall) at 9:15 pm.  I will check in weekly with Brenna to touch base about academics, group dynamics, health, activities and much more.  By doing this, I can help keep you all up to date about the happenings overseas.  Here’s a little update on the group so far: 

TTS22 is experiencing one of South Africa’s lesser known seasons – the rainy and chilly spring in the mountains.  However, the group is bonding with orientation activities and introductions while drinking rooibos tea in their cozy conference room.  On Saturday, when the sun finally peaked through the clouds for the first time, Brenna paused the i-Life class to go out and dance under the African sun.

The girls are getting used to sleeping in tents and waking up to misty, cloud draped mornings.  They are discovering monkey broilers, a common way to heat shower water throughout Africa.  Pot belly stoves are hidden behind the bathroom building and every morning one of the camp workers comes to light a fire in the stove to heat barrels of water for the showers.  Of course, once the fire goes out, the showers go cold.  So speed is key in a group of 21!  Luckily, the fires are periodically stoked and often re-started in the evenings.

On Sunday night the girls enjoyed a fire under a cloudy sky with some of the guides from Magoebskloof.  Julie, a zip line guide, was going to teach everyone some Afrikaans and Xhosa phrases.  And Monday was the first full day of school!  PE class started at 6:30 am followed by breakfast and seven class periods.  As you read this the girls are probably tucked into their tents and dreaming about their youth challenge course on Tuesday.  This challenge involves working as teams to climb over 8 feet tall wooden fences, balance & walk over a see-saw log and slither through tunnels.

I am headed to South Africa on Monday to join the group and take tons of pictures.  Until then, here’s a glance at what Magoebskloof looks like and activities your girls will be enjoying.  These pictures are from TTS18.

 The common area deck - where meals  and socializing happen
 Class time over looking the hills
 Youth adventure challenge
Morning P.E

Who’s Who in the TTS Office?

Who’s Who in the TTS Office?

We know that doing business electronically and on the phone can be confusing. So, now that the paperwork is finished, and before things get too far along and you’re embarrassed to ask who is who, we thought we might re-introduce ourselves (with photos) so you might know who you’re talking to or who to contact at TTS. Let’s  start with the administrative staff in Bozeman, MT.

Jennifer Royall: Jennifer is the Head of School; she has been the one answering most of your questions as you prepared your daughters for the semester in Africa. Jennifer was with the teachers in Washington, DC and so many of you met her there. She will be guiding the Campus Visit Trip to Namibia in November– we hope you can join her! And though she is transitioning out of the "go to" role for TTS22 and beginning to focus on enrolling students for TTS23, she is always available to chat with you about your daughter and her experience in South-West Africa. She can be reached via email at and on the office phone 406.586.3096 ext. 702 or in the case of an emergency, by cell, 406.581.7479. 

Aunge Thomas: Aunge is the Dean of Students. She will be the primary parent and group contact once your daughters are overseas. Most of you have already spoken with Aunge during the enrollment process. Aunge will oversee the TTS22 blog, send out mentor comments, and contact parents in the event there are any doctor visits or medical, academic, social or emotional concerns. She has a weekly phone date scheduled with the Program Head, Brenna Kelleher, keeping her in regular contact with the group overseas. Aunge hopes to periodically check-in with each student’s parents by phone to see how everyone is faring as the semester progresses. Aunge is readily accessible via email at, on the office phone 406.586.3096 ext. 705 or in the case of an emergency, by cell, 406.570.5028.

Jim Hammer: Jim is TTS’s Vice-Principal and Admissions Director. Jim is the person in the Bozeman office if you have questions about academic credit, future semesters, SATs, or college planning. He registered all students for their TTS classes and will oversee any student course changes by contacting parents and home high school counselors for prior approval. Jim also oversees midterm and final transcripts. Jim is available at the TTS office 406.586.3096 ext. 703 from 9am – 1pm M-F or via email at

Price Klaas: Price is our Associate Director of Admissions and Business Manager. She has invoiced families for tuition and fees, interviewed the students and helped Jim monitor student paperwork during the enrollment process. She will continue to oversee tuition management during the semester. Direct any financial inquiries to Price at the TTS office 406.586.3096 ext. 704 or via email at .

The Traveling School office is open 9:00am-5:00pm (MST) Monday-Friday. If you’re not sure who to contact, please  or call our office phone: 406.586.3096 ext. 0 or our toll free number: 888-251-7387 to leave a message for any or all four of us.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just a note to say how wonderful it was to go to DC and meet all that the other young ladies and amazing teachers that my daughter Molly will be traveling with to AFRICA!  For the parents that I did not get a chance to meet in DC,  please let me ease your mind if you have any doubt about your daughter being in good hands for the trip.

The TTS teachers are all sooooo sweet, enthusiastic, well traveled and well educated. All that bundled into loving, fit, wonderful role models for the girls. Sarah, Sylvia, Brenna and Heather all have unique and valuable gifts in their individual personalities to share with the girls.  Meeting them made it so much easier to say good-bye and know that this trip is going to be an amazing experience for them all.

It was such a treat to meet and spend some time with Jennifer Royall,  the head of school.  She has a lot of passion for the program and no details were left unaddressed.   The orientation ran very smooth and stress free.  She had a big welcoming hug for EVERY girl as they arrived.  I am so happy I was able to see her warmth.  And BTW,  she has a great sense of humor to boot!

Thank you TTS for all that you do!

Lynn Jacobs,  Mother of Molly

Onward from DC!

Dear TTS22 Parents and Friends,
Well, orientation has come and gone in a whirlwind in Washington DC. The teachers arrived on Sunday, August 18th and were able to meet a few students (Ariela, Peri & Molly) and families for lunch at the American Indian Museum. We made an attempt to visit an amazing exhibit: Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories, but it was really more interesting at that point to chat and get to know one another. I'm sure we were a bit of a nuisance to other museum-goers, so we eventually got the picture (see below) and walked across the Mall to the Natural History Museum to view the exhibition: Nature's Best Photography Awards.We saw amazing photos of African wildlife from places the students will travel this semester: Kruger, Etosha & Chobe National Parks.
Brenna gets froggy

Students and parents enjoyed more Smithsonian sights or made final preparations for the semester, and the teacher team headed back to prepare for the rest of the group orientation.

Tuesday is a blur of airport shuttles, duffel checks, and shuffling of group gear bags! The girls arrived from the airport in waves and dove right in: full of enthusiasm. Maeve was the first to arrive and Sarah was not too far behind. Students and families collected in the lounge, waiting for rooms to open up. We learned that Megan missed her first flight and would come in later and waited for the 4 o'clock flights to arrive. Anne drove in with her family and soon after Anna, Mayree, Katherine, Eleanor and Mara all arrived in short order, followed by Emilee and Juliana. When given the option or a spare minute, students circled up and began their process of getting acquainted. The group walked to dinner at Pei Wei nearby, and Sarah and Heather followed with a few last students: Natalie, Hannah & Lindsay to join us.

Teachers travel skit: What not to do!
After dinner, we returned to the hotel for introductions and a presentation about the semester (we'll try to share this on the blog for those who weren't in DC), continued with duffel checks and tried to get all the girls to sleep at a decent hour (though we're pretty sure they stayed up talking after we checked in for lights out!)

On Wednesday morning, there were a few last minute details to complete: breakfast, a Target run, a travel skit by the teachers and then goodbyes to the parents and siblings. Students had a few hours together eating lunch and the shuttling to the airport began. I saw the group off around 3pm, after they'd all checked in and were heading to security. There were plans for a scavenger hunt and a bit of free time with a buddy prior to boarding the 5:40pm flight.

So the girls have arrived in South Africa. They're heads are filled with dreams and hopes for their upcoming semester. We are so excited for the group and for you at home too. Please call and email us along the way. Check in if you need news; share your news with each other on this blog. It's a place for you all-- so make yourselves comfortable here and join in the conversations!

Cheers to you all,

Friday, August 16, 2013

Packing Info

Hi all-

Here are a few suggestions to help you get your gear in your luggage – and get you to DC to meet us next week!

Check the weight of your bag

As you can imagine, we are used to flying with a lot of luggage. When our teachers leave Bozeman, we all have multiple duffle bags, both personal and for group gear. We arrive at the airport well in advance of our flights and weigh bags, shuffle items, and eliminate last-minute items before getting on the plane. We also mail boxes to the hotel well in advance. So, we are very familiar with the packing list and the luggage restrictions.

 Checked Baggage for Economy flights:  

·         First checked bag: $25 when paid at the airport / $20 when pre-paid using EasyCheck-in Online at within 24 hours of your flight

·         Second checked bag: $35 when paid at the airport / $30 when pre-paid using EasyCheck-in Online at within 24 hours of your flight

·         Maximum Weight: 50 lb/23 kg total

·         Maximum Size: 62 linear inches/158 cm

 Overweight Baggage Fees

·         Fee for any bag weighing 51-99 lb for economy passengers: $100 per bag

·         Bags weighing more than 100 lb/45 kg will not be accepted. If a bag is both oversize and overweight, passengers will be charged both fees.

 Oversize Baggage Fees

·         Fee for any bag between 63-115 linear inches: $100 per bag

·         Bags with a single dimension more than 62 inches, or overall dimensions exceeding 115 linear inches will not be accepted. If a bag is both oversize and overweight, passengers will be charged both fees.

 Specific Traveling School Suggestions

·         Put your Crazy Creek/ camp chair outside of your duffle, and strap it on the outside. When you check-in at the airlines, request a plastic bag for the outside of your bag.

·         Wear your hiking shoes.

·         Carry-on your jacket.

·         The place where girls usually go over is in the toiletries department. Remember that you can re-supply during the whole semester – there are grocery stores, markets, and drug stores where you can buy a second tube of toothpaste or a new bottle of shampoo.

·         Ensure your sleeping bag is in a compression sack – and cinch it down tightly! If you want to watch someone compress their bag – Teton Sports has a good how-to video:

·         And, make sure you have rolled your T-shirts, and packed as many items as possible in other bags. This video promotes Eagle Creek, and while some of the Eagle Creek products work well for us (the packet folders do not), the video has some good suggestions about utilizing your space well:

Packing Duffle Bags and Travel Packs – A few more words of advice…

Soft sided duffles are great for expanding around a load, but they are usually one big compartment that gets packed in one position and carried in another. Things tend to move around inside, and the larger the bag, the more likely it will be that smaller items will become lost in the pile. And, as you are living out of this bag, you want to ensure that you don’t dump the whole thing upside down in your tent every time you are looking for your math homework! Get organized!

As I mentioned above, roll your clothes into cylinders when you pack. That isn't the most wrinkle-free method ever devised, but wrinkles are really part of life at The Traveling School. The next trick is to make gravity work for you to keep everything in place. Pack heavier items - like shoes - at the bottom of the duffle (the bottom when it is being carried). Remember to label your bag on the inside, as well as on the exterior luggage tag, and sew on your Traveling School patch!

 And, we are going to help you learn how to organize and pack your bag – so just concentrate on getting it to DC, and we’ll help you from there!

If you are still stuck…

Send us a picture of your bag and your pile of stuff - we’ll see if we can help!

 Good luck!

The TTS Team 

The Count Down...

Greetings Future Africa Travelers and Parents!

I am Brenna Kelleher Program Head for TTS22 South-West Africa!  Sending a little update from the teachers in Montana. We are busy working away at teacher orientation, finalizing last minute details of exciting adventures and curriculum for the semester. Early mornings and late nights fill our days while dreams of Africa occupy our sleep.

After months of planning, talking and learning about our future group we are excited to finally come together in D.C. climb on the plane and fly to Africa.  We will have a couple days in D.C. with the group for orientation where we can answer any last minute questions.

See you soon!

Safe Travels,
Program Head
Brenna Kelleher
Teachers hiking during orientation on Monday.
(pictured from front to back Aunge, Sylvia, Sarah and Jennifer)

Sarah and Sylvia on the high ropes course at Big Sky Resort on Tuesday. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Welcome to the TTS22 Blog!

Dear Parents, Students and Friends: 
Welcome to the blog for the upcoming Traveling School semester to South-West Africa!

This blog will be a place to read updated notes from students and teachers as we study and adventure through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. This blog will be updated with a variety of information. The teachers will provide academic updates for each class, as well as updates on academic activities, outdoor adventures and beautiful cultural interactions. Students will also update this blog throughout the semester. They will share their experiences through their own words.

The teachers (Brenna, Heather, Sarah and Sylvia) and Jennifer and Aunge have been setting the groundwork for your adventure, and we are all very excited to meet everyone in DC!

While in DC we will begin the process of building the TTS22 community, getting to know each other and preparing for our flight to Africa. Some parents will be joining us in DC, some will not. For those of you who will not be there, we will send updates on the blog and pictures from orientation. Regarding communication, when we land in South Africa, the home office will send an email update. For the first few weeks, students will be out of phone communication, however the home office will keep you updated.

Once again, we are all very excited to meet you and to begin our adventures together! A quote for the beginning of our journey: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -Lao Tzu

See you soon!
The Traveling School
In Bozeman: Jennifer, Aunge, Jim and Price
In South-West Africa: Brenna, Heather, Sarah and Sylvia