GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A long-standing camping trip at West Catholic High School underscores the importance of friendship and encourages students to get out of their comfort zone.

The trip is called “Out West.” It’s a two-week trip teachers said started in 1985 with around six students.

Anna Ignatoski, a junior at the school, has longed to join.

“It was always something I’d hear about and see pictures,” said Ignatoski. “Both of my older siblings went.”

Ignatoski’s dad did, too, with her current principal, Tony ​Fisher, in the 90s.

She finally got to continue the family tradition with 72 of her classmates last summer. Organizers said that’s the largest group to ever travel for Out West.

“I was so excited to get my chance to go,” said Ignatoski.

The students visited The Devil’s Tower National Monument, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, to name a few.

“We, unfortunately, did have a good amount of rain, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of our trip.” said Ignatoski. “You just become so much closer, not only with your friends, but with other people and really your whole grade.”

Pat Nugent knows the feeling.

“The first time I went was in 1995,” said Nugent, Religion and Economics teacher at West Catholic High School.

He was a chaperone then, but in recent times has stepped up to lead Out West with Principal Fisher.

“We go to the same place every year,” said Nugent.

Nugent told News 8 he returns each year for the fun, comradery, the scenery and to see his students’ reactions.

“My biggest takeaway from this is the experience,” said Nugnt.

For Ignatasoki, it’s the relationships. 

Administrators said it costs each student around $700 to go on the trip. They told News 8 the school has funds and donors who can support students who need financial help.