In late July, a group of 10 alumni students from the outdoor-based youth mentoring organization Trekkers embarked on a five-day/four-night canoe expedition down the Penobscot River. With two leaders and the experience of one of Trekkers’ founding volunteers — Maine Guide Al LaPlante — the group covered 50 miles of the river during the five day trip.

After a two-year hiatus, Trekkers Wild 2013 – a wilderness expedition in Maine for Alumni Trekkers – was an amazing experience for all participants. This year’s trip was dedicated to Don Isikoff, one of Trekkers’ first and most devoted volunteer mentors, who passed away from cancer in 2009. In honor of his life and commitment to youth mentoring, Trekkers renamed this program the Donnie Isikoff Memorial Trek.

On July 21, the group traveled to Lobster Lake where they launched their canoes and began their expedition to the West Branch of the Penobscot River. While on Lobster Lake, the group observed some of the most spectacular geology in the state, including the slate, the Dead River Formation and Lobster Mountain volcanics. As they paddled their way down the West Branch toward Chesuncook Lake, they learned about the area’s natural resources, landlocked salmon and brook trout, saw moose and eagles, and enjoyed beautiful views of the mountains of Baxter State Park.

Throughout the expedition, the students were immersed in the beauty, ecology, natural resources and history of the Penobscot River as they practiced wilderness camping skills. One Trekkers’ alumni said in reflection, “Trekkers has really taught me the value of nature, introspection, meaningful relationships, mentors, perseverance, teamwork …Trekkers has played a huge part in who I am today.”

Each night they were involved in discussions led by Trekkers’ Executive Director Don Carpenter, who shared, “The opportunity this program gave us to re-connect with some of our alumni was just awesome. As we paddled up north our journey was filled with amazing scenery and an abundance of wildlife, as well as the usual challenges of dealing with adverse conditions while in the outdoors. However, what was most memorable was the depth of conversation we had about where the students find themselves as they negotiate their late teens and early 20’s. I’m glad Trekkers could be a sounding board and that we could provide a different perspective for them.”

The Donnie Isikoff Memorial Trek is the perfect way for Trekkers to stay connected with its alumni and continue a relationship that starts when students are in seventh grade and follows them through high school and beyond. Trekkers Alumni have a brand new Facebook page at with many photos of this, and past expeditions. To learn more about how Trekkers connects young people with caring adults through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education, visit

The Donnie Isikoff Memorial Trek 2013 was supported in part by a grant from the Quimby Family Foundation.