Summer 2021 Recap: Reconnecting With Wonder

Summer 2021 Recap- Reconnecting With Wonder

There is often a moment at the end of Olympic races where the winning athlete exerts every ounce of strength, speed, and will to cross the finish line and then falls to the ground in utter exhaustion and overwhelming joy. As summer comes to an end, I can relate. I feel like I’m lying on the track, a big smile across my face, sweat soaking my body, and in awe that we finished well. With an almost complete loss of trips in 2020, we were back doing what we do best: being gatekeepers of wonder in a world most of us avoided for the last fifteen months.

As an organization based in travel, we have survived one of the hardest hit business sectors when it came to COVID. The travel and tourism world, which generates a whopping 10.2% of the global GDP, slammed to a halt. Many organizations and businesses were decimated. Through wise management, the financial generosity of our Voyage Guide community, PPP loans, and budget cuts, Wonder Voyage was able to pay our staff throughout the crisis. We exhausted our reserves, but we came out on the other side ready to continue in our mission.

One of the gifts the COVID crisis offered us was the time and space for our team to create tools and trips we have wanted to offer for years. We expanded our locations into all 50 U.S. states, started to offer 3-Day Pilgrimages, created a top-notch open source Pilgrimage/Mission curriculum that will be available in the fall of 2021, and streamlined our systems. We founded two new branches: Boundless Expeditions, an adventure travel club, and, a community of generous folks who combine their love of travel with hands-on investing into partner projects around the globe. As the crisis unfolded, we pivoted from worry to wonder and allowed the Creator to light the path.

As the summer ends, we have led over 350 pilgrims on 23 voyages across 14 states, 5 countries, and 3 continents. That’s only 30% of our normal capacity, but we were relieved to get back to travel and eternally thankful that, with our thoroughly vetted COVID policies in place, not a single medical issue surfaced on any of our teams.

The future looks bright! People are ready to go beyond our confined spaces and move back into a life of exploration, connection, and community. As it looks now, we are certain to have a full 2022. While we will continue to be vigilant in our quest to protect those who are vulnerable, living in isolation has only increased the longing for wonder in the heart of humanity. This summer proved that with proper precautions, wisdom, and care, we can embrace travel once again.

Are you ready to reconnect with wonder?

After a decade working in parish youth ministry Shawn started Wonder Voyage Missions. Over the last 15 years, WVM has led thousands of pilgrims to over forty countries. Shawn is a storyteller and an award winning filmmaker. He is an author who brings the gift of engaging narrative to our journeys. Shawn is dedicated to creating voyages that give people abundant opportunities to encounter God.


  1. Avatar Jeff Smith on August 23, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Praise God for helping you navigate this storm and finding new ways to get out and serve!

  2. Avatar Shawn Small on August 23, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks jeff!

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