January 26th 2010
How do you get a group of high school seniors to go to sleep at 8:30 PM on a Saturday night? Take them on a winter backpacking trip! Hike at least thirteen miles, and push hard to get into camp before dark to put up tents and get the fire going. Add some sub-freezing nighttime temps and sleeping bags look pretty inviting.
Josh, Andre, Chuck
Last weekend a small group of seniors completed their Winter Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT)) hiking 22 miles on the Batona Trail, NJ. Not much more than one hour from Camden, the New Jersey Pines provided an amazing wilderness experience for our urban trekkers. What a beautiful and unique eco system that lies in the middle of the most densely populated region of the United States.
Winter backpacking calls for plenty of preparation, including the right equipment and clothing. We decided in our planning that our goal was not to step outside of our “comfort zone”, but rather to expand it. This trip wouldn’t be about roughing it. We were going into the woods to smooth it. By Sunday afternoon, as we came to the end of the hike, the rain was falling heavy and the temps were close to freezing, but we knew we had accomplished something important. We had challenged ourselves beyond all the limits we had imagined.
Summiting Apple Pie Hill
Soon our group of seniors will be graduating from high school, but before they do, UrbanTrekkers will provide one more significant challenge for them to face: The Senior Rite of Passage. In June we will travel to the Adirondack Mountains in New York State for a two day paddle on Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes, rock climbing on Mount Jo, and a twenty-four hour solo camping adventure.
This upcoming experience is designed to be a time for the seniors to both reflect on their lives and look towards their futures as they transition from adolescence into young adulthood. As a Christian community, we encourage our students to share in a vision for their lives that is counter to most things our culture and their immediate environments value...so the Rite of Passage experience sends our seniors out ready to embrace that alternate vision, to realize all that God has planned for them.