On June 29, 17 eighth-grade students from St. George and Thomaston grammar schools left Midcoast Maine on a two-week expedition with Trekkers, a youth-serving organization that focuses on connecting caring adults with young people through expeditionary learning. The group met throughout the school year to create and design their own unique two-week expedition around five educational components: wilderness education, community service, environmental education, adventure based education and cultural awareness. Their choices led them to New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The group began the expedition in the White Mountains where they tackled their chosen wilderness component by hiking Mt. Osceola. Students took on new leadership roles and began strengthening their relationships with each other and the adult and student leadership through the shared outdoor experience, pushing themselves beyond their normal comfort zone and setting the tone for the rest of the expedition.

Next the Trekkers drove to upstate New York, stopping along the way to visit Nectar Hills Organic Farm in order to learn about their chosen topic, food production and the ethics of “meat eaters vs. vegetarians.” After an extensive tour, the expedition continued north to Whetstone Gulf State Park, located next to Maple Ridge Windfarm, the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi River. Students toured Maple Ridge before swimming in Lake Ontario and heading west toward Niagara Falls. Students rode the Maid of the Mist into the base of the falls the next day before hopping back on the bus and driving south into Pittsburgh, Pa.

In Pittsburgh, the group took part in a service project to help the homeless at the local food shelter, watched the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies, attended Pittsburgh’s Fourth of July celebrations and drove to the Laurel Mountains for a spelunking adventure in the extensive caves deep inside the mountains.

From Pittsburgh, the group traveled to Central Pennsylvania to participate in a cultural exchange with the Amish community of Lancaster County. Afterward, they enjoyed an amazing day at Hershey Amusement Park, sampling all of the chocolate and roller coasters.

At the end of the expedition, Trekkers spent one night at Candlewood Lake in Connecticut, swimming and feasting on Trekkers’ most popular meal: macaroni and cheese. They returned home to Thomaston on July 10, tired and happy, after 13 days of camping, extensive time in five different states, thousands of highway miles and lifelong memories.

To see more pictures and read the log from their expedition, visit trekkersonline.com and follow the links to the Advanced Trekkers trip log. For more information about Trekkers call 594-5095.