Over the past two months, four of the 12 expeditions that are part of Trekkers’ year-round mentoring program covered 17 states across the U.S.
The 8th-grade Advance Trekkers trips took off shortly after school ended for their 10-day expedition across the Northeast. Team Vesuvis explored the White Mountains, went whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River, had a blast at Six Flags and spent time in Vermont learning about Buddhist meditation practices, eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and taking in a minor league baseball game. Team Krakatoa hiked in the Adirondacks, learned about the Amish in Pennsylvania and explored Connecticut.
Our 10th-grade teams had very successful Cross-America expeditions in July. Team Atlas went whitewater rafting in Montana, explored Yellowstone National Park, volunteered at an assisted-living facility and learned about the Eastern Shoshone culture. Team Beacon spent their 10 days exploring the Pacific Northwest—hiking the lava tubes at Mt. Saint Helens, volunteering at Benson Beach and swimming in the Pacific Ocean at Waikki Beach.
Expeditions like these offer our students a chance to build important life skills. As one student said following one of the trips, “I feel like I’ve developed leadership qualities and built confidence as a person.” A second spoke of an important insight: “I will think more about how my choices affect others around me”.
Talking together in group circles also offers the students a chance to reflect about and define their aspirations and to build personal strengths. “One of my strengths I gained was coming out of my shell,” one student noted. “An example of this was sitting with new people.” Another added, “I feel like I know myself better and what I need to do for myself. I also feel more confident.”
For nearly a quarter century, Trekkers has been cultivating the inherent strengths of young people through the power of long-term mentoring relationships. Trekkers was founded in 1994 as a community-based effort for at-risk middle schoolers from Thomaston and became a year-round mentoring program in 1999, eventually evolving into a six-year model that utilizes expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education and training to serve students in grades 7 to 12. In 2016, recognizing that youth throughout Maine and beyond would benefit from the Trekkers model, the Trekkers Training Institute was founded to provide youth development professionals and educators with training in Trekkers Youth Programming Principles. The Trekkers program is now being implemented in eight communities in Maine and beyond.
As Trekkers’ fiscal year ends on August 31st, please consider making a donation to help support trips like those our students took this summer, trips that allow students opportunities to broaden their horizons by increasing their awareness of different cultures and natural environments.
Three easy ways to give before August 31st: Visit the Trekkers website at trekkers.org; mail a check to Trekkers, 58 Park Street, Suite 202 Rockland, Maine 04841; or call the Trekkers development office at (207)594-5095.—Kate Elmes, Trekkers Development Director