On Monday, June 3, Trekkers held a graduation ceremony for 19 graduating seniors who completed its six-year youth mentoring program.

Don Carpenter, Trekkers executive director, led the awards ceremony where he “roasted” each student individually through humorous gifts and a slideshow, sharing unique and unforgettable moments with family and friends from the many expeditions the students took part in during the past six years.

Twenty students entered the program in seventh grade as part of Teen Trekkers, where they spent three days exploring the outdoors with adults from the community by camping, canoeing, and engaging in group activities and journaling around nightly campfires. Continuing into their eighth-grade year, students spent the first year of many to follow, planning their 14-day expedition around the northeastern United States where they used consensus-based decision making to design their expedition around five educational components: Service Learning, Cultural Awareness, Environmental Education, Adventure-based Education, and Wilderness Exploration.

In ninth grade, they took a Ride Through History expedition to explore Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, to learn about the country’s founding. During their tenth-grade Cross America expedition, students elected to travel to the Pacific Northwest where they swam in Crater Lake, hiked through the Redwood forest, visited Seattle, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and learned about bioengineering with local experts. Last year, they embarked on their College and Career exploration, where they visited colleges and trade schools between Maine and Pennsylvania. And this past April, they completed their Trekkers experience with the Rites of Passage expedition, including a 36-hour wilderness solo in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

In total, this year’s graduating Trekkers class has visited 17 colleges and universities, traveled to more than 12 states, and hiked countless state parks. They volunteered at soup kitchens, as well as Habitat for Humanity. They participated in cultural exchanges with the Urban Trekkers from Camden, New Jersey, the Southern Ute Tribe in Colorado, the Amish in Pennsylvania and visited a Buddhist Temple in Pennsylvania. They have gone white water rafting, attended a major league baseball game, visited the Pittsburgh zoo, and explored the Great Sand Dunes, in addition to creating countless lifelong memories through many other adventures.

Many of these graduating seniors were also part of the student leadership program and Trekkers hopes to see them return as adult mentors to guide their younger peers during expeditions in the future.

The following students participated in Trekkers’ graduation ceremony: Michael Ansart, Emilee Cross, Michaela Garrett, Lindsey Joyce, Audra Masterson, Elijah McPhail, Evan Myers, Benjamin Oakes-Boynton, Shale Peters, Luke Rector, Vance Miller, Megan Rickard, Bethany Schulberg, Natasha Shacklett, Erika Tardif, Dora Thompson, Fox Whitman, Molly Mellor, and Cerra Harris.