Berg’s 10-year-old daughter, Kelly, 7-year-old son, Anton, and 19-year-old Swedish exchange student Marina Kranjec are along for the ride, which began just after Christmas from the family’s Raleigh, N.C., home and will pass through 48 states in seven months. They are touring the U.S. as a learning experience and to raise money for books for low-income children to keep in their home.
“The main purpose is to show my kids the country,” Berg said, “and as we travel I wanted to do some kind of service project. I’m passionate about education.”
The children are registered as homeschoolers for the trip, and regularly write blogs on www.GumpTrip.com, the website that chronicles the journey. They’ve already seen Everglades and Grand Canyon national parks and explored Arches National Park on Tuesday, March 26, while taking a break in Moab to visit Brenda’s aunt and uncle, James L. and Darlene Nelson.
The Bergs will depart Moab this weekend to head to their next stop – Sedona, Ariz. From there, they plan to drive up the California coast.
Berg said she’s already driven the RV (which the family has named Forrest after the movie character Forrest Gump) and a car, attached behind on a trailer, approximately 6,000 miles apiece – and the trip isn’t yet half over.
The Bergs are partnering with First Book Marketplace, which offers low-cost books to schools and programs serving children in need. The average price is $2.50 per book, Berg said, so each $10 donation buys four books.
She added that Child Trust, a foundation started by Golden Corral restaurants, has offered a $15,000 challenge grant toward the goal of raising $30,000 for books. So far, the Bergs have raised approximately $6,000, not including the challenge grant. Those who wish to contribute may do so on the website.
Berg and her children have visited students at some schools along the way. She said it has been eye-opening for Kelly and Anton to meet and talk with less fortunate youngsters, whom they encourage to follow the trip via their blog entries.
“These kids don’t travel,” Berg said of the children they have met who come from low-income families. “Their perspective of the world is flat. The whole idea is that we tell them about our trip and invite them to come with us through the website.”
Berg’s husband, Christer, will join her and the children as his work schedule allows, she said.
Before embarking on the adventure, the Bergs considered 400 places they wanted to see, but eventually cut the list to about 90 stops.
Berg said Kelly and Anton are excited about seeing new places and about helping put books into the hands of children in need.
“It’s a blessing,” she said. “We feel so privileged to be able to do it.”