Trekkers Hosts Cultural Exchange

Maine Trekkers and Urban Trekkers students explore a hiking trail on Monhegan Island during “From the ‘Hood to the Woods” 2015.

Maine Trekkers and Urban Trekkers students explore a hiking trail on Monhegan Island during “From the ‘Hood to the Woods” 2015.

We recently hosted our tenth annual “From the ‘Hood to the Woods” program at Blueberry Cove Camp in Tenants Harbor. The 5-day expedition provided an opportunity for local students from Trekkers and students from their sister organization, Urban Trekkers of Camden, NJ, to build meaningful relationships across cultural boundaries, and to challenge themselves in Maine’s beautiful outdoors.

Thirty-four students and 12 leaders kayaked Maine’s coastline in Port Clyde, jumped from the highest points in local swimming quarries, hiked on Monhegan Island, went bowling at Oakland Park Bowling Lanes, sailed with Rockland Community Sailing, experienced lobstering with a local fisherman in Tenants Harbor and enjoyed a community lobster bake at Blueberry Cove. Throughout the expedition, students and mentors incorporated meaningful discussion about the issues of fear, labeling and race, and engaged in the team building activities that are a trademark of Trekkers programming.

“From the ‘Hood to the Woods” was created in 2006 by Trekkers’ Executive Director Don Carpenter and Jim Cummings, director of Urban Trekkers, as a way to encourage cross-cultural understanding and dialogue between rural and urban youth. Both men were interested in creating a safe setting where students from all walks of life could engage in meaningful conversations about stereotypes, prejudice and racism. The program they created allows dialogue to unfold naturally, while providing challenging experiences for both groups to connect and build relationships with each other. Through this program, students learn that, whether they are growing up in the most rural state in the nation or in the most impoverished city in the country, they have a lot more in common than they ever thought possible.

As a follow up from this program, students from Maine Trekkers will have the opportunity to visit their Urban Trekkers counterparts during two different expeditions in the coming year, when they will take part in similar cultural exchanges, but in an urban environment. Currently celebrating its 21st year of working with local youth, Trekkers connects young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. This year, the organization served more than 200 youth and involved more than 100 adult mentors from the communities of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston.

For more information about the “From the ‘Hood to the Woods” program or Trekkers, visit www.trekkers.org or call (207) 594-5095.

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