Former student Amara Cohen, now a student at the University of Chicago, shares how her Adventure Treks experiences have helped her thrive in her first year of college.
So, Amara, what was your “aha” moment when you realized the impact Adventure Treks has had on your life?
During the orientation week, I was at a barbecue with a group of kids from my hall that I had never spoken to before. We were sitting on the ground, eating our hamburgers together, engaging in a lively conversation about the various ways to eat corn, and it hit me that I would not have known how to connect with so many new people in a group setting if not for AT.
It’s no secret that AT offers challenges to its students—some challenges mandatory, others optional. The optional challenges were the main contributor to my newfound confidence. I was surrounded by amazing and supportive people, so I was willing to step up and face the challenges. No matter what happened, I knew my friends were there for me, so I knew I had nothing to fear.
How do you think your AT experience has helped you socially in college?
Through AT, I got to meet people with diverse backgrounds. I learned how to respect and engage with them, even if I disagreed with their views.
Let’s talk about practical life skills for a minute. In what ways has AT helped you develop independence as a college student?
I suppose the most obvious answer is that it forced me to see what life is like without my parents there to answer everything for me. I had to make my own choices, and I also had to suffer the consequences of those choices (always pack an extra pair of wool socks!).
How did AT help you figure out who you are as you entered college?
AT gave me the opportunity to think about who I was as a person and who I wanted to be. When you’re stuck in the wilderness with a group of 20 teenagers for a month, you see the best and the worst in people, as well as in yourself. I found the parts of me that I liked, and I focused on embodying those ideals as I went into college.
How do you describe your AT experience to your friends in college?
I tell them that I went to an adventure camp. I usually use the words “amazing” and “intense.” And then I often tell them the story of climbing Mt. Adams, because it makes me sound awesome.
How has AT influenced your chosen major or career path?
I’m still undecided about my major and career, but I learned about a wide variety of career paths during my trips. Sometimes my instructors would tell us amazing stories from various jobs they’ve had, and other times we would meet someone while hiking and get to hear about their life. These stories served as a reminder that there are so many careers that I had never heard of, so I don’t need to worry if I haven’t found the perfect job yet.
How often do you stay in touch with your Adventure Treks friends?
In general, I’m not very good at staying in contact with people. It’s therefore rather impressive that I’ve managed to stay in touch with my Adventure Treks friends. We actually meet about twice a year to catch up. It’s so nice having someone to reminisce with about all the adventures we went on.