Penobscot Bay YMCA Provides Internship for Trekkers’ LEAP Program

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Rockland YMCA Wellness Director Stephanie Williams and Trekkers LEAP intern Haylie Witham (photo credit: Caitlin Clark)

Trekkers’ LEAP program (Launching Empowered and Aspiring Professionals) concluded the internship phase earlier this year, with six high school juniors placed in 40-hour paid internships in the local business community. These internships were coordinated by Trekkers Internship Coordinator Caitlin Clark. The goal of the program was to help students connect their developing interests and passions to real-world employment experiences.  The participating organizations included Pen Bay Healthcare, Alexis Iammarino in conjunction with The Steel House, VSTV, Bay Chiropractic, In Good Company, and Penobscot Bay YMCA.

Haylie Witham, a Trekkers 11th grader at Oceanside High School, served as an intern at the Penobscot Bay YMCA. Haylie hoped to explore a career related to personal health and wellness, and Stephanie Williams, Wellness Director at the Rockland YMCA, readily agreed to serve as her supervisor and mentor. Haylie has been observing trainers Stephanie, Tammy Brooks and Angie Vachon as they plan and teach group exercise classes, and guide clients through personalized training regimens.  She has also worked at the front desk greeting members. Haylie said, “Every day the personal training circuits are different, and the trainers have explained to me what they are changing and why. I’ve also enjoyed participating in different types of group classes, finding out the areas they target and how to keep people motivated. I’ve really enjoyed the variety, and getting to move around while working. It’s been great, I’ve had fun.” The Penobscot Bay YMCA has served the residents of the midcoast region since 1912, when the Camden Y was founded. The Y’s mission is to promote healthy living, youth development and social responsibility. The YMCA has partnered with Trekkers in the past to host interns and train and employ students and we are thrilled to continue the partnership.

Speaking of her involvement with the LEAP program, Stephanie Williams said, “It’s rare these days for a sophomore in high school to have an area of focus which they would like to explore for the future. If you ask most high school kids what they’d like to go to college for, the majority say, ‘I don’t know.’  When Caitlin from Trekkers contacted me to host a 16 year old intern, I was shocked and excited. Students at this age are impressionable and for us at the Y, we found it inspiring to be able to share our knowledge about community health and wellness. I am grateful to have had this opportunity with Haylie.”

Trekkers’ Internship Coordinator Caitlin Clark remarked, “LEAP gives students a platform to explore career possibilities, network within the local community, and practice a set of professional skills that will serve them well in any career. The midcoast community has been very supportive of this program, and the Trekkers organization is tremendously grateful to the host organizations and mentors who guide our students.”

In April, the six LEAP students, along with their fellow 11th grade Trekkers, participated in a 10-day College/Career Exploration expedition. In that program, each student researched careers of interest and selected up to two institutions of higher learning that they wanted to visit during the expedition. At the end of the expedition, the students were equipped with a list of insights and personal preferences to help guide their post-secondary pursuits. At a time when they are focused on their future, the LEAP internship program is a logical first step for informing the students’ college/career program in the spring.

For more information about these 11th grade programs, go to or contact the Trekkers office (207) 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. This year, Trekkers will serve more than 200 7th through 12th grade students from the communities of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston.


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