August 16th 2013
In the last two weeks, I have traveled over 2,200 miles with 14 teens, and 5 other chaperones through three states in a 21-passenger rental bus. We consumed approximately 90 apples and oranges, 125 bagels, 150 granola bars, 80 hot dogs, 225 ounces of baked beans, and 60 Trekker Pizzas. Our gear included 12 tents, one portable gas grill, 40 water bottles, and 20 sleeping bags, sleeping pads, whistles, headlamps, and Crazy Creek chairs. We traveled from sea level to more than 13,000 feet of elevation, in temperatures ranging from high 30s to low 100s. We visited five national parks; Rocky Mountain, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes. We hiked a total of 18 miles, climbed aboard a 600+ ton mining truck, and did 10 loads of laundry. We showered a total of four times, and got to bathe in one lake and one freezing cold river. All that to say, I have come away with more than one story to share.
In many ways, this trip was my orientation to the UrbanTrekkers program. It was very much a learning experience for me to observe the other leaders and interact with students and staff to see what direction to take the Trekkers program down in Honduras. However, along the way, I found myself involved in something far bigger than a “program;” I became a part of the family that is UrbanTrekkers.
When asked to share what it means to be a Trekker, I was blown away by some of the responses of our students. Check ‘em out… Being a Trekker is about being committed, courageous, and confident. It’s more than just camping or hiking, it’s a living experience- stepping out of your comfort zone, meeting new people, going new places, experiencing YOU in the world while expecting God to meet you there. It’s different from the usual and all about embracing new things. It’s about having a positive attitude, grit, and perseverance. Trekkers are vibrant, thrifty, prepared, and committed to their morals.Being a Trekker is up there with being famous! It’s about gaining confidence in yourself, and knowing who you are. It’s not giving into fear. It’s family. It’s community. You learn decision-making skills and build character while expanding your horizons. And as Mr. C says…Once a Trekker, always a Trekker.
One person in particular helped me to see the true meaning of being a Trekker- her name is Faith. Faith was someone I saw right from the get-go illustrating the characteristics of a true Trekker. She was committed, confident, positive, and vibrant. Yet the thing that impressed me most about her was her inquisitiveness. In the aforementioned list of Trekker traits, you have to be ready to explore new places and embrace new things. Well, I think that the ability to ask questions and find the answers is just as adventurous as climbing to the top of a 13,000 ft. mountain ridge. Faith never faltered in her willingness to ask deep, thought provoking questions about faith, ethics, people, and how it all relates to everyday life. Don’t get me wrong- Faith knew how to confidently and respectfully share her thoughts and opinions, but she was also open to taking time to examine her own beliefs, to figure out exactly what it is that she believes.
I was on the same hiking team as Faith at Independence Pass. At first our group wasn’t sure if they could make it to the top. Round trip it was 5 miles of cold, high altitude hiking after several nights of fitful sleep. Needless to say, there were a lot of complaints at first, but we made sure to replace those with camp songs and lots of trail mix/water breaks. When we reached the first ridge, students had the option of staying put, or finishing the hike at the second peak. Some of the Trekkers decided to sit out the last leg of the journey, but not Faith. She was ready to move mountains. She couldn’t wait for me to finish my montage of photos and get going. In fact, Faith’s enthusiasm was so strong that it spread to rest of our hiking team, which eventually conquered that last peak.
At the end of our time in Colorado, we were given the opportunity to reflect and look back at how we had changed since the beginning of the trip. Faith’s final journal entry brought tears to my eyes and a fire to my soul. She expressed how much this trip had meant to her- from developing new inter-city friendships to experiencing the beauty of the Delicate Arch, Sand Dunes, and the other parks. She vulnerably shared about the mountains she currently struggles with, and how God had moved to meet her here on this trip. To hear her passionate desire to live fully for God each day made me proud to be part of the Trekker family. I know her determination to conquer the mountain is what makes her a Trekker. In the end, we both reached the same conclusion; FAITH really can move mountains….
Keep On Trekking,