Sixteen 10th graders, along with five adult leaders recently participated in a two-week Cross-America Team Chimera expedition with Trekkers, a youth-mentoring organization that connects young people and caring adults through expeditionary learning. From July 25 to August 8, the group traveled throughout Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, exploring the region’s environmental and cultural uniqueness.
In order for students to be eligible for this expedition, they were first required to complete a four-week Life Skills Course this past spring to help them gain professional skills and knowledge by interviewing at local area businesses. Led by Program Manager Emily Carver, the course included training in resume-writing, professional etiquette and dress, self-confidence and answering interview questions. Each student created an online resume to share with the participating interviewers. Students dressed professionally and participated in a 20-minute mock interview as if they were applying for employment at their assigned worksite. Professionals from Bangor Savings Bank, Camden National Bank, The First Bank, Fisher Engineering, Lonza Rockland and Machias Savings Bank hosted this year’s mock interviews at their workplaces in early April.
In addition to completing the life skills course, the students also met throughout the school year to plan their expedition around five educational components: community service, cultural awareness, environmental stewardship, wilderness exploration and adventure-based education.
To incorporate these components, this year’s Cross-America Trekkers participated in a reforestation service learning project with trail maintenance in Brekenridge on the Peaks Trail; took part in a cultural exchange with the Southern Utes in Ignacio Colorado; hiked to Independence Pass at the Continental Divide at dawn; and went whitewater rafting in the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, New Mexico.They also met up with Robert Apodaca, a New Mexico based water activist, who runs and organizes Nuestro Rio, an organization focusing on water scarcity issues as they relate to the Colorado River and the Latino community.
The Cross-America program is designed to give students the opportunity to explore firsthand the cultural and environmental uniqueness of a particular U.S. bio-region. To experience the uniqueness of this year’s destination, the students and their mentors hiked and explored Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Canyon of the Ancients and Great Sand Dunes National Park (including the UFO watchtower!) while learning about the mineral deposits, the unique geological features, and the desert ecosystem there.
Program Manager Emily Carver explained the experience by saying, “This expedition is all about encouraging self exploration by introducing students to landscapes and ecosystems that are totally different from those they are familiar with. Each day students were introduced to an alien landscape and experiences, then asked to reflect on their assumptions, identity and life path. It is a powerful experience.” As one student stated, “One new thing I’ve realized about myself from being on this trip is that taking your time and enjoying the things and people around you can make things a lot more enjoyable and helps keep a positive attitude.”
To see more pictures or read the trip log from the expedition, please visit www.trekkers.org and following the links to the 10th Grade Cross America Trekkers page. You can also view more photos by visiting Trekkers’ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/trekkersonline. If you’d like to learn more about Trekkers, please call (207) 594-5095.