• Holly Shaw
  • Holy Innocents Episcopal School, junior
Holly Shaw

Many teens spend the summer catching up on sleep, relaxing by the pool or soaking up the sun. Holly Shaw tells a different story.

“It originally started as a mission trip to Africa for two weeks to help kids,” Holly said. As if that wasn’t adventurous enough, Holly decided that after those two weeks were up, she would climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

“I’ve always been really interested in travel to Africa, and this was something I really didn’t want to pass up!” Holly said.

She knew the challenge she faced, but she was eager to try something new.

After the mission trip, Holly and two others from the trip met up with a group of climbers. “We didn’t know anyone else on the trip, so it was really fun to meet everybody,” she recalls.

Climbing the mountain took five days. “As we got higher and higher, it got harder to breathe,” she said, “but it was reassuring knowing that everyone in the group had the same goal.”

On the mountain, it grew colder each day. Every day was a challenge; dealing with the altitude changes is difficult even for experienced climbers. “A lot of us wanted to take breaks, but our leaders wouldn’t let us,” Holly said.

An experienced cross-country runner, Holly pushed through the psychical task with perseverance.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

“When we reached the summit, I cried. I had climbed a mountain and I was so proud.”

Holly said she came back from the trip having learned a great lesson: Never give up, no matter how many times you want to. When you get to the top, it will be worth it.

“You’ve just got to keep going,” she said. “I’m so happy I took that challenge.”

What’s Next

Holly has another year of high school to go, but already has started checking out colleges, such as the College of Charleston and Florida State.

–Hayley Johnson