It’s a typical day in the Adventure Treks world! Today,
- Colorado Explorer is rafting the Clear Creek River.
- Yellowstone Teton Adventure is rafting the Snake River.
- British Columbia is on day two of their backpack in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
- Pacific Northwest Adventure is driving to North Cascades National Park to begin their second backpack tomorrow.
- Ultimate Northwest is on their second day of their second backpack.
- California Adventure is finishing their final day of rafting the Middle Klamath River.
- California Challenge is on day two of their Mt. Shasta summit attempt.
- Alaska 1a is ice climbing for their second of three days on the Matanuska Glacier.
- Alaska 1b is finishing their backpack in the Talkeetna Mountains.
- And Leadership Summit is starting their summit of Mt. Adams.
All over the country, Adventure Treks students are challenging themselves through outdoor activities while being immersed in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Each trip has its own unique story and its own special community, but the outcomes are the same. Our students have made a conscious choice to leave the comforts of home behind along with their digital and social media and have chosen to do something bold, something most of their peers from home would never do, something where they will have to dig deep, be uncomfortable, and help define the person they want to be. I’m proud of them, and they have every right to be proud of themselves. And while they are having a ton of fun, they are building skills that will help them thrive into adulthood.
One of the opportunities Adventure Treks offers students is the chance to build a new narrative, or change slightly the story we tell ourselves about how we fit into the world. Some of the narratives that I hope students bring home after their summer include:
- I am capable of more than I thought. When the going gets tough, I can work harder, and I will eventually succeed.
- Together as a group, we can accomplish more than I can individually.
- It feels good when I pitch in and help others, do more than my share, and even anticipate what needs to be done to help the community succeed.
- Living in a close community is really fun.
- Success is the result of contribution and hard work.
- I can be both a good leader and follower.
- More comfort does not necessarily mean more happiness.
- I don’t have to have electronics or social media to have fun. In fact, I can thrive without them.
- I have had glimpses of “my best self.” I like who I see, and I will try to bring that person back home with me.
- People like me for who I am, not for a specific role I may play at home or school.
- I can become great friends with people who are very different from me—people that I would not naturally be friends with at school or home.
Because we believe so passionately in the benefits of the Adventure Treks experience, our directors are very involved in the summer. We get to meet every single student. As the executive director, I have visited groups in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and I will soon be in Colorado. Our director, Dmac, leaves the office tomorrow for a 26-day swing where he will visit 10 different trips. Our regional directors Erica Van Steenis and Jack Hoiland are on the road all summer getting to know as many students as they can while supporting our instructors by phone and in person.
But it’s the instructors who are doing the hard work. We are always impressed with both their commitment to AT and to our students and the energy they invest to make sure each trip is as spectacular as it can be. We are gratified to have a 75 percent instructor return rate this summer, and they’re an incredibly talented, capable, and dedicated team. All of our instructors go through a two-week staff orientation, and one of our stated purposes is to build a kind, caring, respectful, and inclusive community that then trickles down to positively affect the communities our students form.
Below is a video from our 2018 instructor orientation, which shows some of the extensive training our instructors go through in preparation for the summer.
It’s been a pleasure to meet the incredible kids who choose an Adventure Treks summer, and we are excited for the adventures that still lay ahead.
We wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!
John “Dock” Dockendorf, executive director