Twelve 8th grade Advanced Trekkers, along with six student and adult leaders, recently returned from a 10-day educational expedition. This group of 8th graders, known as Team Everest, was the first group of students to complete their Trekkers expedition this summer. They departed on June 26th and returned to Maine on July 5th. Trekkers is an outdoor-based youth-mentoring organization that connects young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education.
As part of Trekkers’ educational process, each team of students develops their own itineraries through a series of ongoing planning meetings throughout the school year. Because the expeditions require five educational components, the students are able to structure their expeditions based on decisions they collectively make as a group. The educational components for each expedition include wilderness exploration, community service, environmental stewardship, adventure-based education and cultural awareness.
After a school year of planning and an equipment check, Team Everest boarded the Trekkers’ bus on June 26 to travel throughout the Northeast. The team started the expedition by spending three days in Vermont. For their environmental component, they visited Green Mountain Power’s Renewable Education Center in Rutland, Vermont. They learned all about solar energy – the pros and cons – hydroelectric energy, cow power, wind energy, and even got to visit the only solar field that exists in the world that has been implemented on top of a large landfill. For their wilderness element, they traveled to Camel’s Hump State Park in Waterbury, hiking a total of 7 miles and 4,023 feet in the Green Mountains on the Monroe Trail.
They then headed to Savoy Mountain State Park. Thursday was spent at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, where the students were led on a tour, along with a meaningful activity called “Making Ends Meet”, where they were divided into four different groups, and put into a real-life family situation with details on work wages, bills and family background. With that information, they had to do the math on how much money was left over for food each week. In the afternoon, they completed their adventure component by zip lining at Berkshire East Canopy Tours. The students really pushed themselves through their fear of heights, providing a huge support system to one another in the process, zipping through 9 different zip lines at varying speeds and lengths.
On Friday, the group headed out on the bus to the Catskills in Northeastern New York, where they went to the Zen Mountain Monastery for their cultural component. The students were led in a brief meditation to calm their bodies, quiet their minds and become more aware of what was coming up for them as individuals in the expedition. Community service was part of the next day’s excursion, with a volunteering shift at the Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The students packed up 3,000 pounds of goods to send to different agencies for distribution to families and individuals in need of supplies and support. They finished up the expedition in Massachusetts at Six Flags for fireworks and great rides; then along to the Tannebring’s home for games, reflection and journaling before heading back to Maine. As one student shared, “The most educational part of the trip was going to the Food Bank. We learned a lot about making ends meet, and how hunger is a big issue in America.”
To read the trip log from the Team Everest expedition, please visit www.trekkers.org and following the links to the Programs page for the 8th grade. To view more photos, visit Trekkers’ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/trekkersonline. To learn more about Trekkers, please call (207) 594-5095.