March 21st 2023
Each year a cross cultural experience happens that on paper sounds silly. Kids from Maine meeting kids from New jersey, why? What could they possibly have in common? On the surface sure, you could say the beach, blueberries, and another word that starts with a b, but really how are they similar? If you were to look a bit closer, the one thing that draws them together, as well as spurs this confluence in the first place, is Trekkers.
Starting 25 years ago, Trekkers is a six year youth based program that connects young people with adults that care. Within the program relationships are built, experiences are had, and memories are made which help the participants grow into thriving, resilient, responsible young adults. At its core, it is a program that is not a sprint but a marathon in youth development. A program that is relational, experiential, and strength based, from this model, Urban Trekkers was born.
What stemmed from Urban Trekkers inception was an idea of connection. 2 times of a year, both Trekker sights would have the opportunity to visit one another in their home states and show them what life was like in their own backyard. This year was nothing different. Traveling from over 8 hours away, as the Maine Trekkers went from From Lobster Rolls to Philly Cheesesteaks and coastal coves to corner stores, they were welcomed into Camden with open arms.Carrying their bags full of gear and stomachs full of butterflies into our building, these are some of the thoughts that came from our students mouths.
What if they don’t like me?
I don’t know them!
And do i have to share my snacks?
These first day of school feelings of awkwardness and uncomfortablility of being around people you don’t know, is not only common but expected in the beginning. But as time would pass, games were played, and walls were broken down as conversations began to flow, the other expected outcome occurred as well. People began to have fun. From strangers to best friends, students were able to make bonds with each other in 2 days that would only become stronger over time and possibly last a lifetime.
The first of many, this trip was a great experience that showed both sets of students that relationships were something that can start off as a seed. The continued visits back in forth over the years a part of the watering process. And in time, these friendships can grow and blossom into so much more.