Twelve eighth-graders in the Advanced Trekkers program, along with six student and adult leaders, recently returned from a 10-day educational expedition. The group, known as Team Everest, was the first group of students to complete their Trekkers expedition this summer. They departed June 26 and returned to Maine July 5.

As part of Trekkers’ educational process, each team of students develops its own itineraries through a series of ongoing planning meetings throughout the school year. The expeditions require five educational components: wilderness exploration, community service, environmental stewardship, adventure-based education and cultural awareness.

After a school year of planning and an equipment check, Team Everest boarded the Trekkers’ bus June 26 to travel throughout the Northeast. The team started by spending three days in Vermont. For their environmental component, they visited Green Mountain Power’s Renewable Education Center in Rutland. For their wilderness element, they traveled to Camel’s Hump State Park in Waterbury, hiking a total of seven miles and 4,023 feet in the Green Mountains on the Monroe Trail.

Thursday was spent at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, where students were led on a tour, along with a meaningful activity called Making Ends Meet, where they were divided into four different groups, and put into a real-life family situation with details on work wages, bills and family background. With that information, they had to do the math on how much money was left over for food each week. In the afternoon, they completed their adventure component by zip-lining at Berkshire East Canopy Tours. The students really pushed themselves through their fear of heights, providing a support system to one another in the process, zipping through nine different zip lines of varying speeds and lengths.

On Friday, the group headed out on the bus to the Catskills in northeastern New York, where they went to the Zen Mountain Monastery for their cultural component. The students were led in a brief meditation to calm their bodies, quiet their minds and become more aware of what was coming up for them as individuals in the expedition. Community service was part of the next day’s excursion, with a volunteering shift at the Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

They finished the expedition in Massachusetts at Six Flags for fireworks and rides; then along to the Tannebrings' home for games, reflection and journaling before heading back to Maine. As one student said, “The most educational part of the trip was going to the Food Bank. We learned a lot about making ends meet, and how hunger is a big issue in America.”

To read the trip log from the Team Everest expedition, visit trekkers.org and following the links to the Programs page for the eighth grade. To view more photos, visit Trekkers’ Facebook page: facebook.com/trekkersonline.

To learn more about Trekkers, call 594-5095.