Visiting our Students and Evening Meetings

John Dockendorf10 Jul, 2017
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Evening meeting is a nightly ritual, unique to Adventure Treks. Every evening, our trip groups come together as a community, share daily highlights, and publicly praise those who contributed to the success of the day.

“Pluses” are the primary tool we use to build and strengthen our communities, as we prefer to emphasize the positive.

“Deltas” are a way to focus on what we can actually change and gives voice to ways our community can grow and improve.

“Safety checks” empower our students to make safety “the cool thing to do” and keep it as our number-one priority.

Another element of these meetings are hats. Students receive their hats as recognition for growth on their personal frontier. They are awarded at a time when we feel students are being “their best selves.” Ask any AT student, and they will tell you how proud and valued their hat ceremony made them feel.

These meetings, held in the middle of nowhere with no digital props, are a ritual that our students thoroughly enjoy and miss most when they leave Adventure Treks. As an outsider joining an AT trip for a visit, I can best get the pulse of a group by attending these evening meetings. Last week, while Dmac held down the office (after opening five trips in three states last week), I hit the road and visited five trips. I managed to join five different evening meetings in three states (Alaska, Washington, and Oregon) over five consecutive nights.

I’m happy to report that the trips that I visited are strong! Students are forming life-long friendships, have great rapport with their instructors, are seeing incredible scenery, and are having so much fun. Life lessons are happening within a framework that promotes personal growth.

It was a privilege to spend last week with 117 students and visit with 32 of our instructors. I’d like to thank our parents for sharing their incredible kids with Adventure Treks. It was great meeting new students and visiting with many returners. All were eager for challenge and adventure while sharing a close community experience. It was especially gratifying seeing our Leadership Summit students as it is filled with people we have literally watched grow up. Five of these students have been with us for six summers and another five students have joined us for five summers. I remember greeting many of them on their first trip, years ago. I feel old knowing that several of these Leadership Summit kids are headed off to great colleges next year (Princeton, Washington University, Northwestern, and Davidson) and all wrote about their Adventure Treks experiences in their college essays. More important, it’s great knowing the friends they have made at AT are some of the best friends of their lives!

We continue to visit trips. Dmac, our director, heads to Alaska today. He will see eight different trips over the next two weeks. He, too, will get to share in the magic of Adventure Treks evening meetings. I’m heading back out to California and the Pacific Northwest.

Meeting student is the highlight of our summer! Best,
John Dockendorf, executive director

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