Meet Your Counselors

2019 Teens Westward Bound Trip 2!!

Hi America! Meet your 2019 TWB counselors- we are so excited to learn all about you while traveling America this summer. For now, here is a little information about us. We cannot wait to see you on June 17!

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!!

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!

Heather Welch (TWB 2013-1) Blog

Hi America! My name is Heather Welch and I will be one of your Teens Westward Bound counselors this summer!
I was a participant on TWB in the summer of 2013 and this will be my 3rd time going out west a counselor!! I've ALWAYS been on trip 2 with V, so you all are in for a real treat with us crazies) and I am so excited to be going with YOU!! Here's a little info about me: I am a teacher at Porter Ridge High School in Indian Trail, NC. I teach Honors Accounting and Microsoft Word and PowerPoint and I am the head Volleyball coach and help coach football as well. I just started teaching in November 2017, as I graduated from UNC Wilmington (Go Seahawks!) in May 2017 majoring in Business Administration and a minor in Leadership studies. I just had to find a way to go on TWB for the rest of my life (kidding, kind of) so I completely changed my career from Business to being in the classroom and teaching business! I felt that God was calling me to work with young people just like you year around, not just during the summer out west, and it's been an amazing journey so far! I truly love being a teacher and a coach, and it allows me to do my favorite thing ever: be a TWB Counselor.
I am an Ohio native but moved to Charlotte, NC when I was 10 years old. I have a HUGE passion for travel and the outdoors - I have been to 40/50 states and 17 countries! In college I studied abroad twice: Valencia, Spain, and Prague, Czech Republic. In my free time, you will probably find me on a mountain, playing any type of sport, making GoPro videos, flying my drone, and spending time with family and friends.
Get excited, because even though you might not know it yet, you all are so very blessed to be selected for this trip! It is such a unique way to see America and I cannot wait to have the BEST SUMMER EVER with each and every one of you! See ya June 17! (Be sure to follow @twbrocks on Instagram and Twitter and "like" Teens Westward Bound on Facebook as I will be posting important updates and fun pictures before the trip!)

Favorite Quote: "Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire"

Rachel Turner (TWB 2014-3) Cooks
My name is Rachel Turner and I will be one of the awesome counselors taking you out west this summer! You guys better be PUMPED!!! I went on TWB in the summer of 2014 (s/o to you, Trip 3) and have been dreaming (quite literally) of heading back out as a counselor since the moment I stepped off the bus.

A little bit about me: I was born in Atlanta, GA and moved to Matthews, NC when I was 12. I attended UNC Wilmington and though I spent entirely too much time at the beach, I graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology with minors in Neuroscience and Chemistry. A few of my favorite things are any snacks, longboarding, mountain biking, photography, hiking, surfing, hanging out with my family, and playing with my pup! If you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love being outdoors and will pick being outside over inside all day long. Right now, I am planning on taking a gap year and then applying to medical school! My long-term goal is to become a neurosurgeon. If you’re thinking, “wow, this girl is crazy…” that is exactly what I think about myself and my plan everyday! If I had to guess, I would bet that you guys are pretty nervous about loading up on a bus with a ton of people you have never met before. I know that I was!!! BUT, I can assure you that this trip will be life-changing! You will see sights, experience places, and make memories that you will never be able to forget. There are still people I talk to nearly everyday who I went out west with and I am so thankful for that! I cannot wait to meet you all and watch you fall in love with America. Everyone get PSYCHED!!! These is about to be the best twenty-three days of your life!

Jackson Hartley (TWB 2013-1) Bus Cleaners/Bus Packers

"Hey guys! My name is Jackson Hartley, I’m from Charleston, SC. I was a participant on the 2013 trip 1. Since my trip, I have graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in public health. Additionally, I completed EMT school and I have worked on a 911 ambulance service for the past 6 years. This past year, I competed in the National EMS Paramedic competition and my partner and I came in second place (we were robbed of the first spot). Next stop medical school! I love to play the guitar and banjo, and I cannot wait to lead some memorable sing-alongs with you guys. I also love woodworking and making my own furniture.

Let’s go west!

Chris Hill (TWB 2013-2) Dishwashers/Bus Packers
Hi, my name is (what?), my name is (who?), my name is…. Christopher Hill, but most people call me Chris. I am excited to be going out west as a first-time counselor with you guys this year! I feel sure our trip is probably going to be one of the best ones yet, just saying. I went out west back in 2013 and knew I had to go back at the first opportunity I got. I am from Salisbury, NC where I graduated from Carson High School in 2015.  I am a recent graduate from East Carolina University where I earned my business administration/information systems degree. (I already know our football team is not that good so please don’t make fun of me too much!) Some of my hobbies include playing sports, taking spontaneous trips to different locations (thanks TWB for planting that seed), taking my horse to the old town road, and hanging out with cool people like you. Favorite food is anything I can get for free. Random fact is I got on one knee at the Grand Canyon on my trip (I’ll tell you all about it!). Oh, and I also enjoy snacks, so feel free to share!
Payton Bonner (TWB 2013-3) 

HI TWBers! My name is Payton Bonner from Reidsville, NC and I am the newest addition to Trip 2 for the summer of 2019! I stepped off the bus 5 YEARS AGO (the first Trip 3, 2014!) and have been figuring out a way to go back ever since! This will be my first time going as a counselor. Those 21 days back in 2014 were some of the most memorable of my life and I can’t wait to live them again with all of you!!! 

I started my college career at UNC Chapel Hill but decided to transfer to UNC Greensboro where I graduated last month with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing! 6 days after we return from our grand adventure, I will be starting as a Registered Nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill. That means I specialize in babies, not teenagers...but I’ll do my best ;)

When not studying or playing with my three cute pups, I like to read, take pictures, thrift shop, and find the best iced coffees any city has to offer. I love to host random dance parties (bad moves only), sing along to The Lumineers, and recite all 8 minutes of “American Pie.” (Let’s hope they still play that on the bus 5 years later??)  I am so ready to PARTY IN THE USA with all of y’all! See you on June 17th!!!

Staff Weekend


Over Memorial Day weekend, we gathered at the Deaton house to talk all things TWB. We had a packed house for sure as we are taking 4 trips again this summer!! This weekend, we covered ALL important details of the trip, including what it means to be a TWB counselor, safety, and even shared TWB stories from past years. 

We shared a meal together, learned your names and where you're from and even had some fun times on the lake Saturday night. A lot of us counselors do not know each other before we take you out west. You'd never know it though, as Staff weekend is the perfect time to bond and learn about each other as well.

We are SO excited to be traveling out west with you all this summer, we can hardly wait! For now, here are some highlights from this weekend as we plan for the big trip out west! See you in a few weeks!

Counselor Orientation

Learning all about our applicants! 

Time for some good BBQ dinner!! 

Julia, Lauren, Heather, Jackson and Madi all went out west together in 2013 (Trip 1) and now are all counselors this summer! Gray and Ian (not pictured) went on their trip as well! We love when our participants come back as counselors :)

The Deaton Boys (and Josh) love the lake!! 

We love a good Lake Norman sunset...we will see many SUNRISES and sunsets out West 

Heather and Daisy teaching new counselors Madi and Lauren how to blog! 

A little Spikeball action

Trips 1-4 all together (missing a few) 

Grant, Heather, Dennis and Vickie 

Your Trip 2 counselors!! 

From left to right: Grant, Heather, Jackson, Rachel, Chris, Vickie 

Staff weekend was a great success and your Trip 2 counselors can't wait to see you June 17 at Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church for sendoff! Past participants (if you're reading this, you're welcome to come send us off too!!)