TREK by Kathie Cozart and a few other awesome TREKkers…

I can say that the Trek program at Coppercreek has been a life changer for me, again and again, over the past 8 years. I first did Trek as a 15 year old high school student. I returned to the program in the summer of 2012 and the summer of 2015 will be my fourth year directing the program. It’s hard to put into words exactly what this program is and why it is so great for adolescents, so I will start with some basics.

trek5The Trek program lasts two weeks, and we get started right when our Trekkers arrive. The first night the entire group spends time going over the itinerary for the next two weeks, some outdoor survival and comfort basics, and generally getting to know one another and our diverse backgrounds. The following day is committed entirely to prepping for our first adventure to the Lava Beds for caving. We play team building games, learn about backcountry cooking and create meal plans, and gather and pack equipment. We spend the next couple of days caving, swimming and rope jumping at a hidden water hole, and checking out waterfalls. Trekkers return to camp for the dance on Friday night and quickly turnaround and leave the next morning. We spend four days backpacking, hiking, and swimming in alpine lakes and creeks. Once out of the backcountry, we embark on a quick two days of whitewater rafting to relax and wrap up our adventuring.

trek1The Catacombs cave, an infamously long cave that Trekkers spend anywhere from 4 to 6 hours in, is an experience that solidifies the group and creates a family. Being in spaces that small, dark, and cold for that amount of time brings a new realness to any group or individual.

raftingWhen we backpack, the whole team must depend on one another to carry supplies for the group. Without even one person being a good team player, the group falls apart and efficiency drops. Trekkers learn what it means to truly be needed as part of a team.

trek3Although I try and make Trek sound like all fun and butterflies, there are daily (sometimes hourly) challenges that these teens face. When they keep running into dead ends in the caves, or the food won’t all fit into the bear bag, or even when a teammate is struggling physically or mentally, Trekkers have work to together to solve problems and be successful. Although counselors are always there to help and supervise, we try and leave as much responsibility as safely possible on our Trekkers.

Trekkers leave the program with a new family of friends, a newfound confidence in themselves and an ability to be sufficient in both a group and individually. Trekkers learn that they can survive without their videogames, iPhones, and even daily (or weekly!) showering. Evenings are spent playing games with the entire group, telling jokes, and learning outdoor skills, not in front of the TV or on Facebook messenger.trek4

Written by Kathie Cozart, TREK co-leader for Coppercreek Camp

A few other words from TREKkers:

Taylor Krug: Trek was an amazing experience for me. It was so much fun, even if it was challenging at times. It let me explore my love for the outdoors, while making lasting friendships and living those one of a kind stories I’ll probably still tell when I’m eighty. Those eleven or so other people that you acquaint yourself with on the first day immediately become your family. Even if you already knew them, a new kind of closeness develops as you have only them to lean on throughout all of the trekking adventures. Friendships form between people, who, if they all came from the same place, probably would have hardly even crossed paths. Trek shows you how to act in frustrating situations, and how all of your trek-mates do, too. One of the most epochal moments for me in Trek was overcoming my claustrophobia. I came into Trek knowingly afraid of going caving underground, and when we entered the cave, I definitely remember wanting to do nothing but turn and leave for the first half hour. But, everyone is there alongside you and they will help you through it, and by the end of the caves I would have gladly done it again. I will never forget the people and adventures of Trek.

Emma Goodman: Trek has completely changed the way I have seen myself. It has made me into a stronger more independent person. You truly find your true self and the others around you because this program is all about working with people and seeing your true personality not judging by looks.

Casey Astiz: Trek was an amazing experience, one that is very hard to describe. To someone that hasn’t gone on Coppercreek’s Trek program, it seems like your typical outdoor backpacking trip when in reality it’s so much more. Although we had counselors, in a sense we had to learn to fend for ourselves; we had to learn to plan out weekly meals and supplies and also lead each other through new places. For me, it was one of the most empowering experiences I have ever had. Plus, not many people can say they’ve been in a cave for over five hours. Trek is hard, but all the work you put into it you get tenfold out of the experience.

Matt Stenovec: I loved leading trips and I loved being a trekker. I went in two month long treks and a two week bike trek as a camper. Then I lead trek for three or four years, can’t remember.

However, the point of this background is that trek played a huge part in my growing up and introduced me to mentors I still talk to today. Leading trek inspired me to go into education, and I’ve been teaching for the last five years and hopefully building the same growth relationships with my students.

Trek is great because it empowers the participants to take an active role in leadership and decision making, and also pushes kids out of their comfort zone and into a safe place for mistakes and identity building.trekTo sign up for TREK for the summer of 2015, visit

Coppercreek Camp’s CIT Program by Amy Murray

Write a post about the CIT program, she says. Sure, I say. Of course.

This should be easy, right? After all, I ran that program for… 8 years? 9? And then oversaw it for another 3? 4?

But where do I start…? How to capture a program that remains, more than 15 years later, one of my proudest projects? Where do I start with a story that runs through my veins to this day?

I lived in The Galaxy cabin before it had a name, and the first group of girls who lived there with me covered the walls in glow-in-the-dark stars, and thus, it earned its title.  Before that magical night, I had wanted to call it The Orphanage, because when we first set it up, and the beds were not bunked, they filled THE ENTIRE CABIN and it looked like a scene from a Romanian orphanage.

I slept on the porch, not because I had a huge drive to commune with nature, but because that’s where there was ROOM.

I slept on that porch for seven summers.

And one night, one summer, there was a sudden rainstorm, and the girls (bless them) moved my bed inside right to the very middle of the cabin, and I slept there like a little island, safe and dry and surrounded by the girls I loved (still love) so much.

Before there was Lynne’s Pond, before there was all-camp outpost, the CITs outposted on our own, on a night chosen at random. And on one of those nights, I stayed up until dawn with 3 of my CITs, telling scary stories until we were all too afraid to go to bed and turn our backs on the firelight. And somehow, in our sleep-deprived silliness, we picked up a big stick (to protect us from the mountain-lion-clown-aliens lurking in the shadows, obviously), and called it The Ugly Stick, and brought it back to camp, and each of us cut off a little piece and made Ugly Stick necklaces, to remember our night of giggling, terrified, togetherness.

On the back porch of The Galaxy, there is a very worn sign, nailed down to the floor. I don’t think it is still legible, but when it was painted, it read “Tu Roches Mon Monde;” a literal translation of “You rock my world,” and an expression that remains an inside joke between me and those girls (now women), 15 years later.

Before the Brothaship was built, the boy CITs lived in the Battleship before it had a porch. BEFORE IT HAD SCREENS. And we all crowded onto the front steps – the stoop – to hang out together.

There were always CITs on the earliest morning van to the airport, and so we ALL got up ridiculously early on closing days, to hug and cry in the grey dawn….

And make no mistake, there was crying. Big ugly crying, not just from me and the girls, but from 17 year old boys who towered over me, shaking with sobs because it — the magic, the music, the mayhem of camp — was over. Because they had to leave a place where they have a 10:30pm bedtime; and 8am breakfast is mandatory; and they have to help set and clear the table; and cell phones, iPads, laptops are forbidden; and their cars must stay at home; and a trip to grocery store in a teeny tiny town is considered A Big Outing.

They cry when it’s over. That’s how powerful it is.

As I type this, the whole camp is playing Capture the Flag, crashing through the underbrush in the last streaks of daylight. One of the players is a teenaged boy, dressed in neon yellow tights and an equally neon pink tutu. There are sixteen-year-old girls in head to toe camo, sprinting and strategizing and wishing for a win before we call the game on account of darkness. In a few minutes, they will come up here to the deck, smeared with dirt and facepaint. They will help us account for all the campers; they will pour water and settle excitable ten year olds, and breathlessly recap tonight’s game with the same glee as the seven-year-olds. They will go to bed by 10:30, snug in their sleeping bags. They will get up tomorrow and set tables for breakfast.

And maybe THAT is the story in all of this…. The role of a place so meaningful, so sacred, so SAFE, in the lives of teenagers. I work with young children, now, and we talk so much about safety, for little ones. But I think, maybe, teenagers need it even more. A place where the scariest thing that happens is an imaginary clown alien hiding just outside the light from a fire. A place where, every Friday night, you dress up silly and dance with your friends, without a mind-altering recreational substance in sight. A place where an adult will stay up until dawn, just hanging out with you, and where an inside joke can last forever.

A place where a teenaged boy plays Capture the Flag in a hot pink tutu and no one even bats an eyelash.

Yes. That is the story.

That is the CIT program.

Amy Murray, B.Ed., M.S. worked at Coppercreek for 12 years, as a cabin counsellor, then our CIT Director, Teen Leadership Director, Program Director, Assistant Camp Director, and Dean of Campers. You can visit her blog at

The Big Five Recap!

Our Big Five activity programs have now been explained over the past couple months. Missed one? Here is a recap:

TAPs/Rock Climbing/High Ropes:


The Equestrian Center:


Water Sports:


BMX/Mountain Biking:

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These are just five of our big programs but there is plenty more to do at Coppercreek Camp!DSC_0972

Coming next on the weekend blog posts will be our teen leadership programs!

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First Session Outpost

We kicked off summer of 2014 with our first Outpost. All the campers went out in cabin groups to selected sites along our creek. They set up camp, started a LITTLE fire to cook hot dogs, veggie dogs and roast marshmallows. The first challenge was to find their hidden watermelons. One counselor hid their watermelon so well, no one could find it, including the counselor! The evening was spent sitting by the fire, telling stories, singing, visiting other groups and watching shooting stars.

The next morning, after a campout breakfast, the  campers arrived back in camp for showers, letter writing and relaxing.

The general theme of the night was, “It was FUN!”