Posts Tagged With: Trek
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.
The 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.
The 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.
When 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.
Although 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.
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.To sign up for TREK for the summer of 2015, visit www.coppercreek.com.
by Becky Hogland, Coppercreek Owner and Director
I have been spending my summers at camp since 1992 and have 2 wonderful daughters, age 12 and nearly 5 who now join my husband Craig and I every summer. As a Mom, I know how much pressure we as parents are under to do the “right” thing for our children. We can spend our days filled with anxiety. Is this the “right” preschool? The “right” elementary school? Does my child need academic enrichment in the summer? Should I put them on the traveling club volleyball team? And on and on it goes. We quite simply want to give our kids every opportunity we can and are so bombarded with different ways to provide these opportunities, it is difficult to know which way to turn. My Uncle always described it as “collecting keys” to open a door which we may come upon during our adult life, and we are under increasing pressure to make sure our kids not only have keys, but have the “right” keys. So, where does a Traditional Summer Camp and more specifically Coppercreek fit in to the world our kids live in now? So many families see the camp experience as simply a time of fun and friends. In actuality, the social and emotional growth of children is REALLY what camp is about, and the activities and fun are just the vehicle we use.
The Coppercreek Camp experience offers some very real, very necessary benefits our kids can’t get elsewhere. Among these important benefits are independence, the confidence which comes from being part of a supportive, inclusive, multi-generational community, and the life at the pace of nature that our busy, technology soaked kids need.
As Michael Thompson, Ph.D, child psychologist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Raising Cain and Homesick and Happy says in his article Sending Kids to Summer Camp (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-thompson-phd/sending-kids-to-summer-camp_b_1539726.html) “Does an overnight camp experience still make sense in this competitive, resume-building world? From this psychologist’s point of view, the answer is a resounding YES. I believe that children develop in profound ways when they leave their parents’ house and join a camp community. Learning to sleep away from home is, of course, a critical step on the way to independence.” Helping our kids gain independence is a critical part of childhood and one of our most important and most elusive tasks as parents. Our kids can only develop independence by being away from us and making decisions on their own.
Coppercreek offers a warm, supportive environment to start children down the road. As Michael Thompson notes, “Children don’t develop because they are pushed and prodded and pressured to develop. Children don’t develop because of town teams or because their parents prepare them to go to a “good” college. Growing up is what kids do, because development is their biological and psychological imperative. It is the job of adults to create environments where they have the time and freedom and safety to grow up at their own pace.” Coppercreek is exactly that environment.
Some of the things we hear most from our campers is “I could really be myself at Coppercreek Camp” and “I felt confident to try new things.” Why is Coppercreek a place where campers feel confident to be themselves and try new things? One of critical reasons is that Coppercreek is essentially a non-competitive environment. Our campers are encouraged to try their best and we celebrate their accomplishments. We never compare one camper’s accomplishments to another. Each child is growing and developing and learning at their pace. In The Case Against Competition (http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/tcac.htm) in Working Mother Magazine, author and lecturer Alfie Kohn notes, “One study demonstrated conclusively that competitive children were less empathetic than others; another study showed that competitive children were less generous.
Cooperation, on the other hand, is marvelously successful at helping children to communicate effectively, to trust in others and to accept those who are different from themselves.” Coppercreek Camp provides an environment where campers must work together and cooperate for the cabin and the community to thrive. From this spirit of living and working together and cooperating comes acceptance and trust of ALL of the members of the Coppercreek community and a chance for campers to feel confident “being themselves” and “trying new things”.
Last, but not least, Coppercreek provides campers the opportunity to slow down the pace of life, live, work and play in a multi-generational community and experience the wonder of the natural world. Michael Thompson notes in Home Away From Home (http://www.campparents.org/homeaway ) of summer camp that he “re-discovered a fantastic lost world of family traditions. A world where people sit down and eat three meals together every day, serving their food from platters and talking with one another throughout the meal. A world where ten-year-olds set the table for dinner and take all the dishes back to the kitchen when the meal is finished, without complaint. A world where thirteen-year-old boys don’t play video games every night, nor do they watch TV or sit in front of computers. Instead, they lie on their beds and read comic books and novels. In this world, I saw eleven-year-old girls walking together and holding hands as they walked back to their cabins. Right out in the open. No girls there send mean instant messages to one another; they don’t I.M. at all. Instead, they sing. When they are making their beds (yes, they make their beds every morning) and sweeping out their rooms, they sing together. First one starts to sing a song, and then the others join in, spontaneously. There is no adult leading them.
I saw a world where nineteen and twenty-year-old young men spend hours of time swimming and diving and kayaking with eleven-year-old boys, and they all seem to enjoy it equally. When the swimming is over, the boys hang out with the young men and ask them questions. They also walked to dinner together, sometimes with the smaller boys hugging and hanging on the bigger boys, who don’t tease them or act annoyed. Even more amazing, at the end of each evening, the young men, the twenty-year-olds, sit with older men in their fifties and sixties and listen to them tell stories about their lives. The young ones aren’t sarcastic or dismissive the way that television sitcoms suggest they are supposed to be. They seem eager to learn from their elders, night after night. And at the end of the night, they all sing, boys and young men and old men, all together around a campfire. When I visited a camp for a week, some forty years since I had last attended one myself, I was struck hard by how rarely I see children engage in these activities anywhere else: not in schools, not in neighborhoods, not in families. It made me wonder if summer camps are one of the last places that kids can learn the so-called “family values” that hard-pressed families no longer have the time to teach. I was struck by the fact that a summer camp seems to provide something that is in short supply in our fast-paced worlds: respect for ritual, time for the generations to get to know one another, and of course, the opportunity to take a nap or read a comic book after lunch every day.”
I believe wholeheartedly in Coppercreek and the value of a traditional summer camp experience. My Middle School daughter’s homeroom teacher mentioned today that she is a joy in class because she has a confidence and self-assurance that is increasingly rare in a Middle School kid. I had to give credit where it is due; Coppercreek Camp is doing a great job raising our kids. Craig and I are very grateful. Now we just need to decide about the club volleyball team…..