The boarding announcement interrupted a great conversation between Caleb, Jesse, Henry and Instructors Tracy, Steph and I. The students quickly hopped on the plane and just like that… the summer was over… and so was the magic. The last nine trips ended as strongly as I can remember. The students formed close and inclusive communities. I’ll credit seasoned teams of excellent instructors, beautiful weather, wonderful students, low instructor ratios and great activities and scenery.
As our staff converge from around the country at our Portland area base camp, we admit it…we are tired! –But it’s the good kind of tired; exhausted from giving it our all over an extended period of time. We may be tired but we are ecstatic about the results of everyone’s combined efforts. It was a safe summer. We can say it now – no significant injuries! It was also a summer filled with growth and we feel a lot of great eyes have been opened a little wider. We hold our students to a high standard, and we can do this because of our low instructor to student ratio. Role modeling isn’t always easy but long hours spent with great role models at an impressionable time in adolescent development has an impact.
We hope the power of living in a shared community at a self-absorbed time of life in a self-absorbed culture has been slightly life altering. We strive to instill in our students the understanding that they are beholden to a community larger than themselves. Through the art of living in a community that thrives best when everyone is involved, we see firsthand when the common good of the many can outweigh the desires of the few. And we also see instances, equally important, when the needs and desires of a few folk are more important than the desires of the many. At Adventure Treks, we begin to understand how life in a community is a great balancing act. And that you won’t lose your individuality by working for the gain of everyone. In fact most people gain more joy through contribution to others than they ever could by working solely for themselves.
Most of our students who came to AT for their first year signed up for an exciting trip filled with adventure, challenge and time outdoors. While they got lots of adventure, most new families don’t realize that the activities are just a small part of the AT experience until their kids returned home. It’s almost impossible to communicate in our marketing materials what it is Adventure Treks really does. Hopefully all of our students will come back next year. When they come back, they won’t be coming back for the activities as much as for the “AT Magic.” At a time when our communal institutions are slowly disintegrating, we want to fill a void and be that “second family,” a really happy place where kids can be proud to be themselves and escape some of the pressures of being a teenager. They will be coming back to a place where friendships become stronger each year and last long beyond the summer. Adventure Treks is that special place where you can be “your best self” for an extended period of time, and practice… makes perfect!
It’s been a privilege getting to know your children this summer. We’ve tried to treat them as our own and we believe we have had an impact. Thank you for your trust and please stay in touch. Though we are eager for a rest, vacation is still a few months away! It starts again next week as we begin instructor orientation for our fall season consisting of outdoor education programs for schools on August 20th. These programs will run through Halloween. Our school programs are important but they are not quite as magical as summer.
We sure are going to miss our great students. Thank you for being part of Adventure Treks.