Trekkers, a Thomaston-based, long-term mentoring organization, completed educational expeditions for their 9th grade classes in February. Trekkers’ Program Managers Brandon Caron and Lindsey Evans led the students of Team Beacon and Team Atlas and their adult mentors on separate 10-day Urban Expeditions which began on February 16. The focus of this program is to expose students to the environmental, economic and cultural similarities and differences that exist between Midcoast Maine and several major cities down the East Coast. Their exploration took them through Boston, Massachusetts; Ridgefield, Connecticut; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Annapolis, Maryland; and Washington, D.C.
Through a combination of tours, interactive multi-media, group discussions and hours of bus riding, the groups learned firsthand about differences and similarities between Midcoast Maine and urban metropolises. Accompanied by adult mentors and student leaders, they had the opportunity to connect with caring role models from their community while discovering new aspects of themselves and their peers.
On one of the first days of the trip, both teams met up in the Philadelphia area with Trekkers sister organization, Urban Trekkers. Discussion based activities were utilized to share and explore the different cultures and lifestyles of Midcoast Maine and Camden, New Jersey. The leaders and students toured Camden, New Jersey and sites where the Urban Trekkers conduct their programming. The experience granted the Maine Trekkers the chance to build meaningful relationships, and it encouraged cross-cultural understanding and dialogue with the urban youth.
After our time with Urban Trekkers, Team Beacon and Atlas started up their independent journeys once again. Team Beacon visited Annapolis, Maryland, where they received a tour of the city and the U.S. Naval Academy from Trekkers alumnus Nate Hersom. Another highlight from the first few days of the expedition was completing a Freedom Trail tour in Boston where they learned about the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.
Team Atlas spent an extra day in Philadelphia where they explored the National Constitution Center and Reading Terminal Market. They also toured Eastern State Penitentiary to learn about the history of the prison and current mass incarceration in our country.
In Washington, DC, both groups separately visited a variety of national landmarks, including the U.S. Capitol, National Museum of Natural History, Museum of American History, Arlington National Cemetery, the Holocaust Museum, the National Air & Space Museum and Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Team Beacon spent their journey home stopping back in Philadelphia, also touring the Eastern State Penitentiary. Their final day included a stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for yoga, meditation and reflection on the last 10 days before driving back home to Maine.
As the students reflected on their experiences, one student shared that “The strength of this team is how much the world can throw at us and we jump back up so easily.” Another student commented on the experience with Urban Trekkers as being, “Awesome. I really got to break a boundary between the stereotypes that follow both of our groups.”
To learn more about Trekkers, visit www.trekkers.org. If you would like more information about Trekkers or its expeditionary learning programs, please call (207) 594-5095.
Trekkers is a non-profit outdoor-based six-year 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 240 7th through 12th grade students from the communities of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George and Thomaston.