On Monday, June 5th, Trekkers held a graduation ceremony to honor 30 graduating seniors who recently completed the six-year youth mentoring program. Leading the awards ceremony were Trekkers’ Program Manager Brandon Caron and Senior Manager of Programs Alaina Ennamorati. As the students were honored, Caron and Ennamorati “roasted” them individually with humorous “senior superlative” bus trophies and a slideshow that featured some of the unique and unforgettable moments from the many expeditions the students participated in over the past six years.
This was the first year that Trekkers has graduated two senior class cohorts, Team Puma and Team Panther, completing the program expansion that began six years ago.
The students entered the program in 7th grade as part of Teen Trekkers, where they spent three days exploring the outdoors with adults from the community by camping, canoeing, and engaging in group activities and journaling around nightly campfires. Continuing into their 8th grade year, students worked throughout the school year to plan a 14-day expedition. They used consensus-based decision making to design their year-end expedition around five educational components: Community Service, Cultural Awareness, Environmental Education, Adventure-based Education, and Wilderness Exploration. The two groups had separate, but similar educational expeditions and their two-week trips that year included visiting Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
In 9th grade, the students simultaneously completed their Ride Through History expedition by exploring Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, while learning about our country’s founding. For their 10th grade Cross America expedition, Team Puma and Team Panther both traveled back to back to the Rocky Mountains region of Colorado and also spent a few days in Utah. Both teams chose to go white water rafting down the Arkansas River, completed a cultural visit with the Cortez Cultural Center, explored Mesa Verde, hiked the Continental Divide at Independence Pass in Colorado, and hiked to Delicate Arch in Utah. Team Puma volunteered for Food Bank of the Rockies while Team Panther volunteered doing trail work.
Last year, as high school juniors, the teams simultaneously embarked on their College and Career Exploration expeditions, where they visited colleges and trade schools in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut. And this past spring, both groups completed their Trekkers experience, including a 36-hour wilderness solo, during the Rites of Passage expedition.
In total between both teams, this year’s graduating Trekkers class visited 23 colleges and universities, traveled to over 10 states, and hiked in countless state and national parks. They volunteered at food banks and completed many service projects in inner city settings as well as local settings in Maine. They participated in cultural exchanges with Urban Trekkers from Camden, New Jersey, learned about the Amish communities in Pennsylvania, and explored different religions and practices such as Buddhism. They went spelunking, attended a major league baseball game, and visited the Holocaust Museum, in addition to countless other adventures.
Sixteen of these graduating seniors were also part of the student leadership program. Trekkers hopes to see them return as adult mentors, guiding their younger peers during expeditions in the future.
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. As a preventative, community-based program, Trekkers brings students and adult mentors together to build meaningful relationships over a period of six years. This model, in turn, creates a safety net for local youth who are civically engaged and oftentimes return to Trekkers as adult volunteers themselves. Trekkers serves the communities of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston. For more information, www.trekkers.org or call 207-594-5095.