Making the decision to embark on an Adventure Treks trip for the first time can be a little unnerving and scary; after all, many of our new students have never done an outdoor trip before! We applaud our students’ choices to step outside of their comfort zone to do something completely new, including meeting new people from all over the country and world; trying outdoor activities like mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing, and backpacking; and living in a close community for two to four weeks at a time.
We recently asked our returning students and parents and alumni for their best advice for new students coming to Adventure Treks for the first time. As usual, they delivered with heartfelt, thoughtful comments! Below is part 2 of our advice series.
Any advice for new students coming without a friend or someone they know?
“Although it’s awesome to come to AT with a friend, I think one of the best parts and definitely one of the most life-changing aspects of the whole AT experience is going by yourself. There is something really amazing about a bunch of strangers from all over the country and the world ending up in the same place, and over the course of a few weeks genuinely becoming a family. It may seem a little scary at first, but trust me, whether it’s the second you meet your new best friends or a few hours in, you’ll begin to feel a sense of compassion, support, and community like no other. Everyone genuinely wants to get to know you for you, and it’s crazy how close you bond with people over the insanely amazing experiences you’ll share together. By the end of the trip, even though you once walked into the experience as strangers, you’ll walk away with best friends who you couldn’t imagine living life without.” – Kate W., student from Erdenheim, PA (3 trips)
“I didn’t come with anyone last year. Immediately, all of the kids open up and even on the first day we were having fun. By the end, everyone is so close it is amazing to think that three weeks ago you just met these people.” – Alex F., student from Winnetka, IL (2 trips)
“If you are coming without a friend, it’s OK! Some people come together, but they are typically returning and probably had no idea they would be on the same trip. Put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.” – Serena G., student from Erie, CO (1 trip)
“I came to my first AT trip without a friend, and I left with 20 best friends. Coming without a friend is honestly a better decision than coming with a friend. It can be nerve-wracking, but I promise it’s worth it to have a fresh start with new people. I love having a separation between home friends and camp friends.” – Claire T., student from Nashville, TN (5 trips)
“It’s ok to go without a friend! Once you arrive and meet the group, everyone is so welcoming and wants to talk to you. I think it’s better to go without someone from home, so you are more open to the idea of making new friends at camp. And everyone is nervous on opening day; just be yourself when you meet the group! I always remember that after the first day hike, all the nerves go away.” – Megan S., student from Franklin Lakes, NJ (4 trips)
“If you are coming without a friend, don’t worry. If it’s your first trip, there’s a good chance that it’s other people’s first trips, too. In my experience, everyone is extremely happy to meet new people, and everyone has a good time.” – Gibson D., student from Madison, WI (4 trips)
“I think it’s actually better to not bring a friend! It gives you a chance to get out of your comfort zone and socialize with people. But no shade if you do bring a friend. Just remember to include everyone and not to hang out with your friend all the time.” – Audi E., student from Ely, IA (5 trips)
“Most people come to Adventure Treks without a friend, but as soon as you arrive, you will make friends! Everyone is really nice, and making friends is not something that you should worry about.” – MacKenna M., student from Durham, NC (2 trips)
“Everyone is so friendly, and most of us are coming without a friend, too! At first, I was nervous about making new friends, but I noticed everyone was so eager to meet and get to know each other. I knew everyone’s name by the next day.” – Natalia M., student from New York, NY (3 trips)
“If you’re coming without a friend, kudos to you for having the guts to do that. I remember the first time I met my fellow students, I freaked out and immediately thought I was going to have a miserable time. It turned out that the people I was so quick to judge ended up being some of my best friends.” – Ian M., student from New York, NY (3 trips)
“I came without a friend my first two years, and it was more fun—because if you come with someone, you’re probably not going to talk to as many people on the first day. I’m shy when meeting new people, but the first day is the best for making friendships. Also, everyone is very nice and open, and it’s really easy to make friends. At the end, you’ll be crying because you don’t want to leave your new family.” – Lexi S., student from Mooresville, NC (3 trips)
“The biggest thing I can tell you about going on a trip without a friend is that it’s going to be totally fine! I’ve done it twice, and I always get that little nervous feeling in my stomach a few days before the trip. But both times, I’ve been so lucky to find lifelong friends from all over the world. And remember, there are a lot of other people that will be in the exact same situation as you!” – Krithi D., student from Berkeley, CA (3 trips)
“Don’t worry if you’re coming without a friend; unless you count AT returners, a lot of people don’t know each other. Even if there are preexisting friendships, everyone will become super close really quickly. It’s like you’ll develop a second family. The people on your trip will become your best friends by the end. It’s just a natural thing that happens with trips like these.” – McCallum K., student from Durham, NC (2 trips)
What about advice for students who are nervous about not showering every day?
“It’s no big deal. Yes, everyone is dirty, but nobody cares. Also, there are always spots to swim.” – Alex F.
“Don’t worry about showering every day; no one else is, either. Pack deodorant if you need, but maybe not on backpacking sections. If you are worried about greasy hair, you can just tie it up. I always wore my hair up for the backpacks.” – Serena G.
“We all are not showering, so don’t worry! It may be out of your comfort zone, but I promise you won’t even notice it. We also swim a lot at Adventure Treks, so I never felt too gross.” – Claire T.
“Not showering every day is honestly not a big deal! At first, I was horrified with the idea of not showering for a week, but we went swimming a few times, so you wash yourself off then. Also, everyone is in the same boat as you, so don’t worry! Just put some deodorant on, and you will be fine. Another tip is to bring baby wipes; each night before I went to bed, I would clean my face and wash any dirt off my body with wipes.” – Megan S.
“You’re not the only one who isn’t showering every day, so everyone else is going to smell just as bad as you… therefore, you probably won’t smell anything at all! You’ll get plenty of opportunities to jump in a stream or a lake and get the worst of the dirt and grime off, so you’ll stay quite clean—all things considered.” – Gibson D.
“It’s actually not that bad. Everyone else is in the same place you are. But it is really nice to shower when you do! If you want to save space on backpack sections, bring only two outfits and wear those for a couple days each. (Obviously, change your underwear.)” – Audi E.
“You will shower about once a week, but every day is so busy and fun that you do not even notice that you haven’t showered.” – MacKenna M.
“I found it very helpful to pack face wipes and sanitizing wipes in my toiletries bag and also in my backpack for easy access.” – Natalia M.
“Everyone goes without showering, so everyone feels gross and no one is going to judge you. And when you’re doing all these fun things, you don’t really care that much. If you have long hair, you can have someone Dutch braid your hair!” – Lexi S.
“Not showering everyday might seem difficult for some, but I swear, when everyone else is doing it, you won’t notice a thing. And it’ll make those few showers feel like heaven.” – Krithi D.
“You definitely get used to it. Don’t worry about smelling bad, because everyone else will, too. After a little while, you won’t mind being dirty that much.” – McCallum K.
“The beauty of AT is that everyone else isn’t showering every day, either, so although it may seem weird at first, it actually feels kind of normal not to shower all the time. You’ll definitely learn to appreciate how good a hot shower feels after a couple days of backpacking, but there are lots of lakes and other opportunities to swim. You may just find that in the middle of the backpack, where you are covered in dirt from a long day of adventure, that you have the biggest smile on your face—and the last thing you think about is a shower.” – Kate W.