Trekkers has completed the fall portion of Big Trek/Little Trek, an afterschool mentoring program that pairs high school students with 3rd and 4th grade students from St. George School in Tenants Harbor and Lura Libby School in Thomaston. This program is now in its 10th year, and runs for six weeks in the fall and six weeks each spring.
The Big Trek/Little Trek afterschool program builds supportive, positive relationships and friendships between high school students and elementary school students, outside their regular school environment. It fosters personal growth and builds communication and leadership skills through interpersonal relationships. The program works in collaboration with the schools’ guidance departments and creates a healthy, safe environment for afterschool play through group activities, teambuilding exercises, sports, playground games, arts and crafts and one-on-one mentorship time.
Starting in October, twelve 9th–12th grade students from Oceanside High School participated as “Bigs” for the fall session of the program. Twelve 3rd–4th graders had the opportunity to spend quality time one hour per week for six weeks with their “Bigs,” learning new projects, playing fun games, and getting to know each other. Each session took place at the schools, starting out with a snack and a circle time where each participant shared a little something about themselves. They then went into a fun and energizing group game. Each pair of students would then have 30–45 minutes of one-on-one time, which sometimes led to larger group activities inspired by an idea of a “Big” or a “Little.” The group ended each session by coming back together for a fun group activity, and tidying up the room together.
The “Bigs” also participated in leadership meetings led by the Trekkers Program Manager before and after each session, in order to discuss highlights and ask for advice from the group. These meetings were an opportunity for each “Big” to share stories, and learn more about their own leadership and mentoring styles. By the last session, it was clear that these connections will live on for a long time in the memories of both the “Bigs” and “Littles,” as the value of supportive relationships was present in each session.
“It was heart-warming to see how instant the connections between the ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ were formed, and to watch as the group’s excitement and comfort grew week after week. Every ‘Big’ stepped fully into their role as a mentor, and acted as a great support to the school counselors and me. They set the tone each week for a positive meeting, and always had new ideas for activities and projects they wanted to do with their ‘Little’ participants”, said Program Manager Hannah Tannebring.
The spring Big Trek/Little Trek session will begin in March 2015, with six sessions each at Lura Libby School and St. George School. To learn more about becoming a mentor for future Big Trek/Little Trek sessions, visit www.trekkers.org or call Hannah Tannebring at the Trekkers office at 594-5095.