From January 29-31, seventeen juniors and four mentors participated in a 2 1/2-day leadership training through Trekkers, an outdoor-based mentoring program that connects young people with caring adults. Held at Kieve-Wavus Leadership School in Nobleboro, this weekend retreat was the second training weekend in the students’ two-year Leadership Program. The collaborative program provides experiential learning, lessons in leadership and the opportunity for students to mentor younger Trekkers. This year’s junior leadership class is the largest in the history of Trekkers’ Leadership Program.
The January training focused on boundary setting and communication skills. During the weekend retreat, students participated in increasingly difficult role playing scenarios, and practiced how to set appropriate boundaries with young people. Students also practiced communication and deep listening; skills that are necessary to support relationship building while simultaneously holding healthy boundaries.
Program Director Meredith Lynt shared that, “The high point of the weekend was watching students work together during a few high ropes initiatives facilitated by Rob Reilly at Kieve. Of course, several students overcame some very real fears about whether or not they could trust the group, or even their own bodies, in order to meet the challenge. But the real lesson learned was how important it is to create a high-level of trust when helping others overcome their fears. That led into some great conversations about how important boundary setting is in creating that environment of trust. If this group didn’t know each other as well as they do, based on the last five years of working together to set expectations of behavior as a group, there’s no way they would have been as successful as they were in overcoming the challenges presented to them on the ropes. Now what we’re asking them to do as part of the leadership team is to turn around and do this for younger students as they come up through the program.”
The students in the 11th grade Leadership Program have now completed two training weekends. At least one additional training weekend will follow after the students’ progress to the 12th grade. Each weekend retreat focuses on a particular theme that is addressed through group discussion, reflection, games, journaling and team-building activities. The 11th grade Leadership Program began with lessons in team dynamics, stereotypes and consensus decision-making.
The two-year leadership progression is designed to build upon the topics and skills from the previous training. Each of the students will then put their new skills to use when they volunteer as student leaders during Trekkers expeditions later this year. Trekkers’ educational expeditions range from three to 10 days in length, and provide many ways for student leaders to act as role models, mediators and peer mentors for younger students.
The expanded Leadership Program is part of the growing organization’s plan to build leadership skills and increase the number of student leaders. Historically, 46% of Trekkers students participate in the Leadership Program and become peer mentors for the younger students. More than 50% of this year’s 11th grade Trekkers are participating in the Leadership Program. For more about Trekkers or the expanded Leadership Program, contact the Trekkers office at 207-594-5095 or visit www.trekkers.org.