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

AT Staff01 May, 2020
teenagers hiking in goat rocks wilderness washington in wildflower fields
Stefan (second from right) on his seventh trip, Leadership Summit, in 2018.

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.

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 Kris and Doug Woolley from Southern Pines, NC. Their son Stefan attended one Camp Pinnacle session, a record seven Adventure Treks trips, and is returning to CP for his second summer as a counselor.

Our next interview will be published on Friday, May 8! 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!

teenagers wearing life jackets in river in california
Stefan (middle, center) and friends on California Challenge in 2016.

How has AT impacted your family?

Stefan was searching for a summer experience that would challenge him physically and expose him to a different friend group outside of our small town. He learned so many positive things about himself every summer, but I believe it was simply the confidence to try new things and make new friends that he brought home to our family. AT helped Stefan choose to run cross country in high school, and he has found such joy in running ever since. He also came home with the best attitude every August, and that was what we all noticed and appreciated about the program. I think his new level of confidence and positive attitude prepared him well for college life.

What was most valuable to Stefan during his time at AT?

He now has a sincere appreciation for the outdoors and an interest in studying human physical performance and improvement. He has also read just about every magazine and book about these topics he can get his hands on. We believe this interest was reinforced by the multiple AT experiences Stefan had… not just to enjoy the outdoors, but to study and protect outdoor spaces. He is now a Camp Pinnacle summer counselor, and he looks forward to becoming one of the excellent AT instructors in the future.

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

male campers and male counselors at summer camp wearing helmets
Stefan (far right) and Camp Pinnacle campers in summer 2019.

It’s OK for the kids to be challenged—physically, mentally and socially—during their AT experiences. Overcoming that challenge will give them a sense of accomplishment and confidence that they can do hard things in life. I think most parents would want to have these experiences with their kids, but it’s OK for them to want to be with strangers, too, and have just as much fun… maybe more!

If you and Doug could do an AT trip, what trip would you want to do? What would you most look forward to?

Any of the Alaska or Pacific Northwest trips would be fantastic! We have always wanted to go. Stefan has explored places in our amazing continent that most people never get to see. Summiting a volcano sounds like an amazing experience, or even finding a dead whale on a beach.

For Stefan, who’s aged out of AT, what does he miss the most?

Probably planning to go on another adventure, including the build-up and the packing…


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