January 20th 2023
A young but wise philospher once said. “Life is a beach and im just playing in the sand”. This statement reminds us to enjoy life, embrace our surroundings, and live in the moment. Now though the author of this quote is Lil Wayne, the words he expressed do not lose their value as that was exactly what was experienced during the 9th Grade Trekker Trip to Assateauge Island.
Beyond NSO( New student Orientation) which happens in the beginning of the semester, the Assateague Island trip at Urban Promise Academy is a students first experience within the Urban Trekker program. Before any trek, we do a trip debrief with the students. Filling them on any key details about the trip and allowing them time and a space to express any concerns they may have. Concerns of theirs ranged from:
“Wait a second…3 days without my phone?! How do you expect me to live!!” To
“Now when you say wild horses….how big are we talking here? Do they bite? How well are they fed? How do you expect me to live!!”
On both sides of the spectrum, their fears were valid. Coming out of Covid, where being socially distanced but digitially connected was the norm, not having access to the outside world was an uneasy and uncomfotable feeling for them. For many people, including myself, the idea of disconnection can be a scary thing. What makes Urban Trekkers so special, as they were soon to find out, is that we do not leave them disconnected but take them on a experience where they can connect with the environment, one other, and in the very moments that they find themselves in.
As they would slowly dip their toe into what being an Urban Trekker was all about, what better place to get their feet wet than in the waters of Assateauge Island. Known for their scenic views and wild horses, the students were excited to see the scenic views….not so much the wild horses. Evidently late night vistis from a herd of hungry ponies was not their idea of a good time. What was a good time for them though, was biking, canoeing, hiking, and nightime campfires with their friends.
The highlight of the trip would be the sunrise devotions we were able to do each and every day. As we stared out at the ocean, as the sun made its way over the horizon, we each umprompted stopped talking and stood in silence as we knew we were watching something magical happen. This would be followed by a devotion where we talked about creation, how everything we saw before us was made by God, and how it was good.
The Urban Trekker experience is a 4 year program where the world is our classroom. We travel to places beyond students' everyday lives, to sites where learning comes alive and students have room to grow. As a first time Trekker myself, Assateague Island was a great introduction to the world of experiential learning. Going outside your comfort zone is not something easy to do, but as a young and wise philosopher once said ,” I don’t need it to be easy. I just want it to be worth it.”
And yes, that person was also Lil Wayne.