(THOMASTON) The Juvenile Justice Advisory Group (JJAG) of Maine recently awarded a $32,445 grant to Trekkers for the expansion of its preventive youth mentoring services in midcoast Maine. JJAG is a volunteer group that helps the Governor and the Legislature “craft effective responses to the problems of juvenile crime and violence” here in the state. Trekkers is an outdoor-based mentoring program for students in grades 7 through 12, who are growing up in the communities of Regional School Unit #13. Trekkers was selected for this grant from a pool of 14 applicants.
In a press release Trekkers’ Executive Director Don Carpenter stated, “We are grateful to JJAG for this grant award, and look forward to working with them throughout the coming year. This grant will provide financial support to help Trekkers complete the next steps in our six year expansion plan. These funds will help us increase the number of students who participate in our preventive programs, and will help us reach the goal of serving 240 students annually by the year 2016.”
Trekkers’ preventive approach begins by forming mentoring relationships with students before they get into trouble. Starting when students are in 7th grade, Trekkers connects them with caring adults from the community through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education. Each group of students meets throughout the school year to plan and design a grade-specific expedition. The students collectively decide on a set of guidelines (including behavioral and academic requirements) they must meet in order to participate in the program.
Each experiential learning expedition incorporates five educational components: community service, cultural awareness, environmental stewardship, adventure-based education and wilderness exploration. Throughout Trekkers’ six-year program, students form stronger mentoring relationships with over 100 caring adult volunteers. Trekkers provides students with many protective factors, such as offering academic support, fostering communication, mediation, conflict resolution skills, and developing leadership and life skills.
Trekkers began expanding its services in 2011, and has been incrementally increasing the number of students each year since then by replicating its grade-specific core programs in a stepwise process. Now nearing the half-way point in the expansion, Trekkers will serve 180 students during the 2012-13 year, a 50% increase compared to the traditional program model.
JJAG is made up of 27 volunteers from all over the state who are appointed by the Governor to four-year terms. For more information about the JJAG, call (207) 287-4371 or visit www.maine.gov/corrections/jjag/. For more information about Trekkers, contact Don Carpenter at (207) 594-5095 or visit www.trekkers.org.