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Trekkers Hosts Urban Trekkers from Camden, NJ for Cultural Exchange

Maine Trekkers and Urban Trekkers students explore Monhegan Island.
Maine Trekkers and Urban Trekkers students explore Monhegan Island.
Posted Sept. 26, 2012, at 2:35 p.m.

Trekkers, a local youth mentoring organization, hosted the seventh annual “From the ‘Hood to the Woods” expedition at Blueberry Cove Camp in Tenants Harbor from August 19 to 23. Students from Trekkers and its sister organization, Urban Trekkers from Camden, NJ, shared a four-day expedition, building meaningful relationships and breaking down cultural barriers while exploring Maine’s beautiful outdoors together.

Twenty high school students participated, along with eight adult mentors from Maine and Camden, NJ. The group spent time kayaking in Port Clyde, lobstering with local fishermen in Tenants Harbor, swimming in a local quarry and exploring the island of Monhegan. Throughout the four-day program, they participated in games, teambuilding activities and group discussions that helped them overcome stereotypes. In the words of one student, “[This experience] taught me that no matter where you come from or what color you are, you will always have people that are like you, that want to listen to you, or learn from you.”

“From the ‘Hood to the Woods” was created in 2006 by Don Carpenter, Executive Director of Trekkers, and Jim Cummings, Executive Director of Urban Trekkers. Both men were interested in creating a safe setting where students from all walks of life could engage in meaningful conversations about prejudice and racism. Each year since the program began, the two groups of students have shared cultural exchanges both in Maine and in Camden, NJ.

The August “From the ‘Hood to the Woods” expedition in Maine is not the only opportunity for the groups to connect and build relationships. Each February and April, the two groups meet again in Camden, N.J., and participate in similar teambuilding activities in an urban setting. Carpenter explains, “Twice a year when we visit the Urban Trekkers in Camden, NJ, we realize the importance of beginning the cultural exchange here in the mid-coast. For the past seven years this collaborative approach has provided some amazing experiences for the students. It’s opened doors of communication and dispelled stereotypes, allowing them to walk in each other’s shoes, to embrace their differences and celebrate what they have in common.”

Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center partnered with Trekkers for this program, providing the use of Blueberry Cove Camp. Tanglewood is part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Trekkers is a non-profit, youth mentoring organization that connects young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, adventure-based education and community service. For more information, visit http://www.trekkersonline.com or call (207) 594-5095.

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