A quick update from instructor Emily: Alaska 1a had another great day here in Alaska, including our day hike, where we summited Mt. Eklutna! This day hike was no easy walk in the park. It was quite “spanky”, as Dock would put it. Gaining over 4,000 feet in elevation, we pushed bodies to work their hardest. However, our efforts were not met unrewarded as the breathtaking views from the summit will be hard to match. We are excited for our backpack tomorrow!
And now a few words from Dock…
Today began with more “icebreaker” games, as we challenge the students to know everyone’s name by lunch. This is usually an easy task, as everyone knows each other from the activities in the park and in the van from day 1. Students broke up into small group cooking classes at breakfast to help build a connection with instructors and feel comfortable in a small group setting, all while learning essential trip cooking skills. Preparing food together and sharing a meal is a great way to form a foundation for new friendships.
After breakfast, the three small groups went on a day hike to continue getting to know each other. These small groups, combined with no electronics, are key to building an intentional community.
It’s easy to build a community when you are isolated from the outside world. With no social media or school pressure and strong, kind leadership from our instructor team, we are able to share the values that promote being a contributing and valued member of a community. It takes everyone’s energy and commitment to complete the many tasks needed for the success of an Adventure Treks expedition (cooking, cleaning, setting up tents, sorting food, packing the trailer, inspecting vehicles, setting up stoves, gathering drinking water, keeping the site clean, etc.). Before the first backpack starts tomorrow, we teach the right way to do many of these tasks. We try to build a level of basic competency so folks will feel comfortable enough to eventually see what needs to be done and voluntarily help the group. Viewing the big picture is just one of the skills that we hope stays with our students long beyond the adventure. When covering new skills, we begin by teaching and modeling, then with practice students gain understanding and our instructors pull back, coach, and eventually are able to delegate. It’s all about helping students gain maturity, responsibility, and leadership.
The students have now entered a world completely different from home. No running water, sleeping in a tent, constant immersion in a community of teenagers, and, probably the biggest difference, no internet or phones. We hope you agree that this new environment, filled with new experiences and a great team of role models, makes for an unforgettable growth experience for the next few weeks.