This past week we did something new and exciting with Project Lifelong! We took 10 of our teens on a 2 day, 1 night backpacking trip! This trip was truly a life changing experience as most of the participants had never experienced carrying their own food and supplies on their back, while hiking up and down a mountain.
After hiking in 2.5 miles and arriving at Lake Margaret, we took time to set up our camp and then go explore the wilderness. There was a lot of team work displayed as setting up a tent is no one-person job! It was fun to sit back and watch our older participants help the younger kids get settled into camp.
Once things were set up, there were boulders to climb, a lake to swim in, rocks to jump off, and fish to catch. Our group learned how to filter their own water, make a camp fire, boil water and ration out their own food for two days. We also spent time during the night star-gazing, telling legends and sharing stories.
Almost all of our teens have grown up in the city, with little access to nature. Some had never sat around a campfire, climbed to the top of a mountain, been hiking, swam in a lake or jumped off a rock into water. These experiences provided mental and physical challenges that each participant individually conquered.
They pushed themselves to their limits, and lot of them realized that they loved it. They left this trip asking for more. More hiking, more backpacking, more nature, and get this… even more time without their phones! Moments like that, when they are talking about their highlights and gratitude at the end of the trip that make all the work and volunteer time worth it. It makes me grateful for programs like this, that help kids access their own inner strength and directly grow from spending time in nature. I just hope even more young adults get the chance to experience the same opportunities in the future.
Volunteer Outreach Coordinator