Meet Your Counselors

Teens Westward Bound Trip 4 2019!

Hello America, meet your 2019 TWB counselors and directors! We are so excited to learn everything there is to know about you while traveling America this summer. For now, here is a little information about us. We cannot wait to see you on July 15th! Let's go trip 4!!


Grant Deaton- Program Director



HELLO AMERICA! My name is Grant Deaton and this is my 19th year traveling across this amazing country with TWB. I started going out west in 1996 and 1997 as a participant. In 2001, I began traveling as a counselor and became the tour director in 2003. It was such an honor and privilege to take on the role of Program Director in 2016. Words cannot express how excited I am about traveling out west again this summer with such an incredible group of young people. We are going to have a blast!


I have worked as a Marketing teacher for 13 years in North Carolina. I enjoy golfing, mountain biking, backpacking, as well as hanging out with my family and dogs. My wife, Kitch, and I are extremely blessed to have four wonderful little boys in our lives. Connor (8 years old), Brandon (6 years old), Samuel (4 year old) and Grayson (2 weeks old) bring so much joy to our family. I will miss them so much this summer.


Enjoying every minute of life is so important to me. Going out west every year with the best young people God has to offer is the best way to spend a summer in my mind. I can't wait to see you soon!!

Vickie Wilkins (TWB 1906)- Trip Director/Site Managers

Hey hey, it's the V, Ms Beautiful, or any other name that you would like to call me as we travel out West and back this summer! AMERICA is calling our name and the cities, the National Parks, the campsites, and all the adventures that await us - I can hardly wait!  I have traveled with the unbelievable DEATON FAMILY for over 35 years across our breathtaking country, in addition to traveling throughout Europe. I teach at Southern Lee High School in Sanford, NC, where I coach Girls and Boys Tennis, and I am the SGA Advisor. I teach a wild group of women in Sunday School, and I work part-time for UNC athletics in football and basketball! Yes my blood runs a lighter shade of blue - GO HEELS! I love any flavor or size of FRITOS, I love Ice Cube Peppermint gum, and H2O is the drink of travelers across AMERICA with dry heat, and changes in altitude!

As soon as I saw you I knew an adventure was about to happen!  Winnie the Pooh I am looking forward to more memories, the never ending adventures, and getting to know all of you!

Alyssa Johnson (TWB 2014 Trip 2)-Cooks


Hey everyone! I’m Alyssa and I am so stoked to be one of your counselors out west this summer. From the moment I stepped off of the bus at the end of my TWB trip, I knew that I wanted to be a counselor one day! I was fortunate to travel out west during the summer of 2014, and TWB definitely changed my life forever.

I’m from the great old town of Mooresville, NC (home of our stellar program director Grant) and graduated from South Iredell High School. I am finishing up my last few classes at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where I am a Health and Human Sciences major with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation. Next year, I will be attending graduate school for Occupational Therapy.

Some random facts about me….

I was born in California.

Last summer, I was an overnight camp counselor for kids with disabilities at Camp Joy in Ohio.

I have over 100 souvenir turtles from places I’ve been.

My favorite place to be is somewhere new in my eno with a book.

Let’s get our chaco tans on! See you guys soon!


“Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.”

Ian Hensley (TWB 2013 Trip 1)- Bus Cleaners- Bus Packers

Hello everyone! My name is Ian Hensley and I cannot wait to be one of your TWB Counselors for the July 15th - August 6th, 2019 trip! I know firsthand how life-changing this trip can be, so I’m incredibly excited to experience with all of you! I was born and raised in Eden, NC- “The land of the two rivers!” From an early age I enjoyed being outside, going on adventures, and learning all about the world we live in! Both of my parents are educators, so it may come as no surprise that I developed a love for learning, a curiosity to explore, and an interest in experiencing new things at a very young age! I’m eternally grateful that my parents encouraged me to apply for Teens Westward Bound while attending Rockingham County High School - it definitely changed my life for the better!


Shortly after my time spent with TWB, I moved to Boone, NC to attend Appalachian State University and pursue a degree in Graphic Arts & Imaging Technology. App was a great school to go to for anyone who enjoys being outside or going on adventures. Boone is located in the heart of the high country, nestled at the the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and is the epicenter for river-rafting in the summer and snowboarding in the winter! In my four years at App, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a successful business fraternity, work for University Recreation, and to have met the people I’ll call my ‘best friends’ for the rest of my life!


After I graduated from App in the spring of 2018, I made a gigantic move to Austin, Texas in search of "wide open spaces, and room to make big mistakes," as the Dixie Chicks would say. Though it’s certainly different than what I’m used to, I love living in Austin - there is great food, friendly people, and no shortage of things to do! For close to a year now, I have worked on the marketing team at Sprinklr, a tech startup focused on connecting customers on modern channels. This has been a fun place to work because of the incredible people I’ve gotten to meet and become friends with and because I’ve gotten to travel to a lot of cool places!


I am so ecstatic that we will have close to a whole month to get to know each other this summer, so before we do, here are some important things to know about me! First and foremost, the soundtrack to my soul is set to the voices of the women of classic country music. Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks… are all fair game and could be blasted on the radio at any time! I’m also obsessed with trivia games, conspiracy theories, and sci-fi movies! I’ve recently discovered that I love kombucha and that there isn’t a taco in Austin I won’t try! When I do have free time, you’ll find me at the farmer’s market, in the gym, running on the trail by the lake, on poshmark shopping for athleisure clothing, or checking out a live performance in town with my friends! I can’t wait to experience this amazing adventure with you guys! Take it from me - these memories will last a lifetime!

Daisy Manning (TWB 2013 Trip 2)- Bloggers

Helloooo everyone! I'm Daisy Manning and I am pumped to be going west with all of you this summer. I went on TWB in 2013 (trip 2!!) as a participant and this summer will be my second trip out west as a counselor. I'm originally from the small town of Oxford, NC and I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2018 (Go Heels!!!!). I currently work full-time in Raleigh but I'm so excited to spend my summer adventuring!


I love to rock climb, run, hike, and travel. Really anything outside and I'm in! Some of my favorite things are breakfast foods, eating ice cream and TWB. I've spent time living in Europe and Asia and I've traveled in Canada as well. I love to explore new places and cultures and try new foods. Can't wait to eat poptarts (off-brand, of course), ham sandwiches, and pbjs on the bus though!! I'm blessed to have this opportunity to spend 23 days seeing America (and a lot of incredible sunrises) with all 81 of you. I am always up to laugh, dance, blast music, and talk about literally anything. I know it can be nerve wracking to prepare for this journey and get on the bus with a bunch of strangers, but trust me when I say that TWB is going to be the best experience of your life, I know because it was also mine, so come prepared to make the most of our 23 days together. Also for real-don't overpack! You will have regrets when your bag weighs more than you and you have to haul it around...we've all been there. If you're anything like me, you're already counting down the days to July 15th, but don't worry, it will be here before you know it! I can't wait to meet you all and become the best of friends! See you in a few (hopefully short) weeks!

Dustin Farris (TWB 2012 Trip 2)- Dishwashers- Bus Packers

My life journey began in Gastonia, North Carolina where I was born and raised. I attended Ashbrook High School where I graduated in 2014. I participated in TWB during the summer of 2012. In the fall of 2014 I attended Elon University in North Carolina. While at Elon, I was a Leadership Fellow and President of the Phoenix Phanatics (Elon’s student led organization promoting student involvement and support for Elon athletics). I also participated in intramural sports and extracurricular activities. During the summer of 2016, I interned at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Asheville, North Carolina. During the summer of 2017, I interned at a church in Manhattan, New York, where I worked alongside fellow interns to run a youth summer camp. I also have experience working as a summer camp counselor at the YMCA in Mount Holly, North Carolina. In the spring of 2018, I graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Religious Studies and minors in Leadership Studies and Peace & Conflict Studies. August 1st, 2018, I moved to Boston, Massachusetts. In Boston, I work with City Year, an AmeriCorps program geared toward engaging students in the classroom. My time with City Year will end on June 15th. On September 19, 2019, I will leave for Indonesia where I will serve for 27 months as an English Language Teacher with the Peace Corps.
I am extremely excited for the opportunity to relive this amazing journey across the US. I am looking forward to bringing a fun loving energy and enthusiasm to this group. I hope to act as a mentor and role model to those participating on this trip. I am excited to meet everyone!

Staff Weekend


TWB STAFF WEEKEND 2019!!!

This past Memorial Day weekend, all of the staff met at the Deaton house to learn all everything there is to know about TWB. With (almost) everyone from all four trips in attendance, the house was packed! We all got a little practice packing light and waking up early, so we're pretty prepared. We covered every important detail about the trip and talked about stories from previous TWB trips. After a weekend of talking about everything TWB, we're all so excited for this summer! 

All 4 trips!
A more accurate representation

Grant, Daisy, Alyssa, and Miss Beautiful (don't worry-our boys will join us next time!)




Lunch break! 
A solid TWB meal! 






Getting the blog ready to go!

One of many beautiful sunsets we'll get to see this summer


Staff weekend was, as always, a success, and we are unbelievably excited to meet all of you in a few weeks. We hope you're getting excited, the next month will fly by and we will be heading west before you know it! Stay tuned for our "meet your staff" blog and more!