Trekkers has begun the 11th year of Big Trek/Little Trek, an afterschool mentoring program that pairs high school students with third and fourth grade students from St. George School and Lura Libby School. This year, 15 students from Oceanside High School are participating as “Bigs” for the fall session of the program. Prior to the program’s start, all of the “Bigs” participated in an hour-long training to prepare them for their role. For nine of them, this program is their first experience as a mentor. Four of the mentors are also participants in Trekkers’ Leadership Program.
In years past, Trekkers has coordinated a range of five to seven matches at each school for a six-week session. This year, Lura Libby has seven matches while St. George has eight. The Big Trek/Little Trek pairs will meet in nine weekly one-hour sessions from mid-October to mid-December. Some of the “Bigs” actually went through the program as a “Little” when they were in the third and fourth grade, and this experience was a key reason why they decided to sign-up this fall to be a mentor.
Each week, the students participate in a variety of activities together, both one-on-one and in large group settings. They will spend time being active on the school playground, playing basketball, playing board games or doing arts and crafts together. In addition to enjoying the weekly activities, the “Littles” receive encouragement from a positive role model, while the “Bigs” develop leadership skills and gain an appreciation for giving back to their community.
Keeping true to the Trekkers’ mission, Big Trek/Little Trek builds relationships and continues a mentoring tradition for older students who have already benefited from caring adult role models through their own Trekkers experience. Big Trek/Little Trek is designed to give the “Bigs” a chance to become peer mentors; encouraging them to take a more active role in the culture and development of our towns and school systems. The benefits for the “Littles” mirror those of the “Bigs,” helping to build self-esteem and foster interpersonal relationships.
Trekkers Program Managers Hannah Tannebring and Brandon Caron are leading this year’s Big Trek/Little Trek program. Speaking about the fall session, Caron said, “It’s amazing to see the amount of positive energy that is generated by the simple act of showing up and taking an interest in someone else’s life. The ‘Bigs’ show up every week with the mentality that they are there for only one purpose – to make their “Little” feel important. Because of this, the “Littles” show up with excitement and a desire to share their stories with their “Bigs,” as well as an energy that is contagious throughout all involved. It’s a powerful experience.”
To learn more about becoming a mentor for future Big Trek/Little Trek sessions, visit www.trekkers.org or call Hannah Tannebring or Brandon Caron at the Trekkers office at 594-5095. Trekkers is a non-profit outdoor-based mentoring program that connects young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. Trekkers’ serves the six communities of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston.