‘Clowning and Caring’ Trip to Costa Rica Eye-Opening for Treehouse Youth

By Riley, Treehouse Graduation Success Student

This summer, through Treehouse, I had the opportunity to participate in The Gesundheit! Institute‘s “Clowning and Caring” program in Costa Rica. The institute was founded by Patch Adams, a doctor known for his social activism.

If I had to sum up the Costa Rica clowning trip in one word, I’d have to say “eye-opening.”

I know I don’t know many things about the world. That’s for sure. I’ve grown up in the U.S., and I’ve never left before that trip, so that was fun! But I had plenty of good times on the trip, and it was awesome.

Everyone was so nice, both the people on the trip and those that were witnessing the craziness. We went to La Carpio, a university, a nursing home and a mental hospital. And, while all the adults were visiting the women’s prison, the other two young people and I painted a wall in La Carpio! But you all came for details, not a summary.

The first thing I did as a clown was parade through the streets of La Carpio. I’d never been a clown before, so just being dropped into this environment with no knowledge of how to be a clown other than, “invade people’s space,” was a little odd. A university’s marching band played music while all of us clowns ran around.

I kind of lost all thought at that point and got absorbed by the music and hype. The act of invading people’s personal space and making them smile felt like a secret magical power that I had just unlocked. It just came so naturally to me that I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up for the rest of the week.

I met so many good people there. The clowns all accepted me, and the people we encountered were all so sweet. La Carpio was rather emotional, though, with all those amazing people living in such conditions.

The only time I was uncomfortable or worried was when we went to the mental hospital. I didn’t know what to expect. Most of the time you can gauge how you can make people laugh or smile, but there, it was difficult. If I could do one thing differently, I’d want to be more open and out there in the mental hospital.

All in all, I would recommend any sort of Patch Adams clowning trip to everyone! It’s a way to break out of your shell and comfort zone in a fun way. This is a great thing for everyone of all ages to experience!

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About the Author

Riley is one of the 750-plus youth in the Treehouse Graduation Success program preparing to graduate from high school and pursue their dreams.

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