On June 27, 20 eighth-grade students from St. George and Thomaston Grammar schools left the Midcoast on a two-week expedition with Trekkers, a youth-serving organization that connects young people to caring adults 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 and Connecticut.

The expedition began in the White Mountains where they tackled their chosen wilderness component by hiking Mt. Tecumseh. Each student took a leadership role and began strengthening relationships with each other and the adult and student leadership through the shared outdoor experience, pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone.

Next the Trekkers drove to the Catskills of New York. North-South Lake became their launching point to fulfill their community service and cultural exchange components. Students met with staff at the Adaptive Sports Foundation to learn how various outdoor equipment such as kayaks, canoes, bicycles, skis and snowboards can be adapted to suit the needs of youth and adults with disabilities. Students then visited Zen Mountain Monastery and met with a monk who led them through basic sitting meditation, fielded numerous questions about Buddhism, and gave students a behind the scenes tour of monastic operations. From there, the group then traveled to Harrisburg, Pa., for a quick stop at Hershey Park for chocolate delicacies and fantastic amusements before heading westward to Pittsburgh.

In Pittsburgh, the group attended the city’s Fourth of July celebrations, ate the infamous gigantic sandwiches at Primanti Brothers and watched the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Houston Astros at PNC Park. From Pittsburgh the group drove to the Laurel Mountains on the border of West Virginia for a spelunking adventure inside the extensive caves.

On its return trajectory, the group made stops in the Poconos and on Lake Zoar in Connecticut for swimming and feasting on pizza and ice cream. They returned home to Thomaston on July 10, tired and happy, after 14 days of camping, exploring five different states, thousands of highway miles and lifelong memories.

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