Posts Tagged With: Trinity Alps
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.
Their faces peer out at me from my scrapbook. Lugging huge backpacks up a steep trail, performing feats even an ant would envy. Perched on the top of an outcropping of rock against the sunset.
Ceremoniously dumping water on each others’ heads. These are the faces of a group of people who have been a special part of my summers. We like to call ourselves Trekkies, but lately we have been confused with the Star Trek: Next Generations fans. That’s all right; we could just as easily be called something else: Galactic Grapes. Zoo Animals. We come from very different backgrounds, but all share the responsibility of watching out for each other and for ourselves. The program is called TREK: High Adventure Leadership Camp, an outgrowth of my beloved Coppercreek Camp, my summer haven. Four weeks of rockclimbing, caving, backpacking, and whitewater rafting.
It is an intensive lesson in tolerance and a development of physical and mental strength. Four weeks of living together, eating together, making no-bake cheesecake together. The demands are great, but the rewards are worth it. And the people are some of the most hilarious ones I have ever met. There’s Brian, who wears a plastic Gumby-doll, nicknamed Guacaman, around his neck and likes to stick his toes in my ear. Barbara, with whom I stayed up late into the wee hours waiting for the Cockroach People to come and get us. D.J., whom we almost killed for telling us that awful joke about the pink ping-pong balls.
I think about them often, now that I am too old to do the TREK program. Oh, the times we had! We waded through the snowfields to the peak of Sawtooth Ridge in the Trinity Alps and look down at the shimmering blue lakes encased in their rocky basins and the green meadows stretching away to join the trees. We inched through tiny lava tubes under the ground and prayed we were not lost.
We dared to challenge Hell’s Hole on the Trinity River and came out alive, even if we came out backwards. We graced the Weaverville supermarket with our Presence, wearing pillows on our heads to entertain the locals. We suddenly became possessed with an Inspiration to spit watermelon seeds at each other. Oh, the times we had!
Among faces in my scrapbook, I can see myself–younger, but obviously me, with the same grin, same freckles, same old hiking boots. Here I am indulging my passion for fruit punch Crystal Light, reading The Little Prince on the trail, learning to see the humor in everyday occurrences while discovering the serious side in me.
What is the profound amidst the not-so profound? Taking the cooking gear well away from the lake to wash? Picking up that piece of litter? Not teasing Tim about his hair, which is always sticking up? Always remembering that you can make it up to the top of that rock, even if your arms are shaking like a sewing machine. These lessons of respect for the natural environment, tolerance for other people’s space and feelings, and a strong belief in the power of ME are the legacies of TREK. More than that, I find rare moments of complete peace with myself and my future while surrounded by the people, the beauty, the golden freedom of summer.
Trek 1989, 1990, 1991
Kate is also an accomplished musician. Please go to her Facebook page and enjoy her beautiful music: https://www.facebook.com/kateisenbergmusic.