Seventeen Georges Valley High School seniors recently completed their final Trekkers expedition as students. Their five-day Rites of Passage expedition centered on a 36-hour wilderness solo, designed to take students away from the noise and pressure of everyday life and give them time to focus on the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts served as the backdrop for the challenging undertaking of the wilderness solo. The solo symbolically marked the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. To aid this process students were given questions on the nature of adulthood and encouraged to concentrate on their own lives, both in the present and into the future. For many, it was the first time that such a large block of time was dedicated solely to exploring who they are and who they want to be. Students were given the choice of using a tent or creating their own shelter out of tarps and fallen debris in order to make the experience more authentically their own. Every site was isolated from the next and each student agreed to uphold the quiet and solitude of the solo for all 36 hours by not contacting or distracting any other participants.

Before the solo experience, the students sat together and discussed their years in both Trekkers and high school, pinpointing the aspects of their lives that bring them joy and discussing ways to cultivate that as they move into the future. The Rites of Passage expedition also marked the end of their six-year participation in Trekkers, an experience that began with an expedition to Acadia National Park in their seventh-grade year. Through Trekkers, this year’s senior class has spent six years surrounded by caring adults while learning about a diversity of cultures, exploring new environments, and being challenged in nearly every dimension of their lives.

The conclusion of this year’s senior expedition marked the eighth group of students that has completed Trekkers’ unique six-year mentoring model.

Trekkers is a nonprofit, youth-serving organization focused on providing young people in the Midcoast with dynamic ways to form relationships with caring adults. To learn more about Trekkers and the Rites of Passage program, visit trekkersonline.com or call 594-5095.