Blog: August 2012

We're All Trekkers: Hood to Woods 2012
August 19, 2012
What could twelve teens from Camden, NJ, and twelve teens from mid-coast Maine possibly have in common? All are part of an amazing youth development and mentoring program called Trekkers. Since 2006, UrbanTrekkers and Trekkers from Maine have ended their summers with the annual Hood to Woods reunion.  UrbanTrekkers board their bus for the ten hour trek to Maine's mid-coast to spend four days with teens from a rural fishing community in a cross-cultural adventure.
Mid-coast Maine offers some amazing opportunities for outdoor adventures. Kayaking off Port Clyde can almost guarantee sightings of Atlantic Porpoises in the feeding grounds at the mouth of the Saint George's River. This year we also had our first whale sighting from the ferry returning us from our hike on Monhegan Island, as a 30-40 foot Minke Whale surfaced multiple times, giving us the opportunity to stare on in awe and amazement. Trekkers and UrbanTrekkers also took the opportunity to go swimming and cliff-jumping, where students bonded over the thrills and chills of plunging into the cool, clear water of an old rock quarry.
My favorite adventure on this trek full of adventures is the time we spend out on a commercial lobster boat with lobstermen Bobby Joe and JR as they haul in their lobster traps for our evening lobster feast. Their boat is the family business and lobstering is their way of life. On our beautiful late summer day out on their boat, the water is calm and the scenery is postcard perfect. However, I’m also aware that the work is hard and dangerous and I'm certain not every day is like what the UrbanTrekkers experienced.
Maine and its coastline provide the background and landscape for this exciting trek, but Julia (our new professional intern) and I, working alongside Don Carpenter, Executive Director of Trekkers, have an intentional mission to bring our students together to discover the many things they have in common. Our four days together, sharing meals, cabins, and adventures, allow for an openness to see each other past the stereotypes. We engage in activities that allow students to feel safe and expose willing vulnerability in who they are. Students speak to the influence their environments have on their lives.   Conversations about race, drugs and alcohol, sex and teen pregnancies, along with future hopes and dreams...they soon realize they have a lot more in common than they ever imagined.
Jim Cummings
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