The Positive Impacts of Community Living & Outdoor Adventure On AT Kids: The Davidoff Family

AT Staff24 Apr, 2020
family huddling together with ski goggles and masks
The Davidoff family on a ski day

Adventure Treks is grateful to form and maintain long-term relationships with all of our families; in fact, we still keep in touch with families whose kids came to us on our very first adventures in the early 1990s! Since our inception, we’ve seen firsthand the positive impacts of outdoor adventure and community living on teenagers.

teenage girls standing together and smiling
Emily (second from left) and friends on the Ultimate Northwest trip in 2019.

We reached out to a few families whose kids have done multiple Adventure Treks trips over the years to find out what kind of lasting impression community living and outdoor adventure have had on their kids. We were fortunate to receive many enthusiastic responses! Below, read the interview from Gregg and Katie Davidoff from Steamboat Springs, CO. Their 10th-grade daughter Emily is signed up for her 4th trip, and their 7th-grade son Jake is signed up for his 1st trip.

Our next interview will be published on Friday, May 1! If you’d like to be interviewed about your family’s Adventure Treks experiences, please email Amanda at—we’d be happy to hear from you!

How has AT impacted your family?

It is difficult to describe in words the impact AT has had on Emily. Her experiences from AT define her, and she lives her entire school year anticipating the next AT trip. Emily has learned life skills that will stay with her far beyond any lessons she has learned in a traditional classroom setting. She is independent and adventurous because her AT trips have challenged her and pushed her outside of her comfort zone in a safe and healthy way. Emily has an ability to work and socialize with a group of people that is certainly strengthened from the AT community living model. She knows when to lead and to support. The value of being part of a community where there is no pressure of social media, where she feels safe taking risks she would not otherwise in her everyday life cannot be overstated. As parents, we are so grateful for these invaluable experiences and relationships that Emily will no doubt carry with her through college and beyond.

We are thrilled that this summer Emily’s younger brother Jake will experience his first trip and all of the lifelong benefits that come with it. For our family, AT has become a required piece of our children’s education. Our 9-year-old already asks how long until he can take an AT trip!

What has been most valuable during Emily’s time at AT?

kids in ski goggles and masks on ski mountain
The Davidoff kids

The relationships and friendships Emily has built with people (students and instructors!) from all over the country. The community living and outdoor adventures bond the AT community in a special and unique way. Unplugged, technology-free living creates an atmosphere where she can relax and truly be herself. It is not unusual to hear Emily say, “I didn’t even miss my phone!” when she returns home. Emily and her AT friends spend weeks backpacking and adventuring which bonds them in a way that seems like they’ve known each other forever. (On the flip side, staying connected with AT friends during the school year is a benefit of social media!) AT relationships extend beyond the kids as well! Gregg and I recently connected with some other AT parents when their families vacationed in our Colorado mountain town.

What advice do you have for first-time AT parents? 

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I remember feeling a tad overwhelmed by the packing list, so we started prepping weeks in advance—double- and triple-checking with pen and highlighter marking up that packing list. Ha! Your child will have everything they need; if not, the trip leaders and instructors will support them to find a solution.

Your child will come away stronger and more confident in their ability to handle challenges independently. I wish I had a better understanding of how emotional re-entry, or return to the “real world,” can be. Give yourself and your child grace and time to readjust! As parents, we can’t fully understand our child’s experience, but we have learned that we need to give Emily time and grace to transition from her AT community back to life at home.

If you could do an AT trip, what trip would you want to do?

Do we have to pick just one? Gregg and I would go on any AT trip, but we have to say Alaska would be high on the list! (Maybe you should start offering AT for parents!)


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