The outing clubs at Maranacook Community High School in Readfield, Cony High School in Augusta and the Gardiner Area High School recently won free trips from local organizations and partners.

Maranacook students gets to go winter camping with Maine Path and Paddle, Cony students can learn outdoor skills with Rewild Maine and Gardiner students can take a hike with goats at Ten Apple Farm. These outing clubs won the trips as part of their membership with the Brunswick-based organization Teens to Trails. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, Teens to Trails opens up a trip lottery. This fall’s lottery offered outings with Maine organizations and partners like the U.S. Toboggan Championships, Downeast Lakes Land Trust and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, according to a news release from the charitable nonprofit.

Maranacook Community High School outing club students from left, Rebecca Dorr, Emily Lucas, Kusha Kane, Claire Holman, Juila Riley, Sara St.Clair, Vita Scott, Tom Ferrero, Robbie McKee and Thomas Poling, at Pleasant Pond is Caratunk. Photo courtesy of Teens to Trails

David Butler, recreational guide with Maine Path and Paddle Guides, offered two trips to the trip lottery, one which MCHS won. He said that he offers these because he wants to “get high school kids outdoors, to share (his) experience and knowledge of winter camping so that high schools kids all around Maine can get excited about getting outdoors all year long. With planning, preparation, and the right gear, an overnight outdoors during the winter can extend our enjoyment and knowledge of the outdoors throughout the winter, all while having a blast!,” according to the release.

Teens to Trails provides Maine high school students with the opportunity to experience time outdoors with peers and feel a strong sense of belonging in their social spaces and their communities. The experiences that Teens to Trails strives to offer  caring relationships for each other, ourselves, and our planet. The organization supplies gear, grants, and logistical assistance to outing clubs across the state, aiming to alleviate the burdens placed on club leaders and reduce social, financial, and cultural barriers to the outdoors.

Adviser to the Maranacook Outdoor Club, Robyn Graziano, said, “Teens To Trails has been instrumental in getting the Maranacook Outdoors Club started. We applied and received a grant that enabled us to purchase two camp stoves. So, we now have the start of a gear closet for future outings. I’ve also relied on pandemic outing ideas they have presented on their website to get our club moving. We are excited about the Winter Weekend we won thanks to Teens to Trails,” according to the release.

These trips will bring outing club participants to a variety of places. The Maranacook trip, which includes a pre-trip planning session, lets an outing club stay at one of the cabins or yurts at the Hidden Valley Nature Center where they will learn about how to safely winter camp and survival skills. Cony will participate in a workshop hosted by the Portland-based organization Rewild Maine, which is an educational organization focused on promoting nature connection by teaching nature-based living skills. Gardiner has the unique opportunity to visit Ten Apple Farm where they will go on a hike with goats to learn about everything goat-related from goat cheese to raising goats.

The cost of the outing is supported by a gift from its partners at L.L. Bean. Providing these free or highly reduced opportunities to enjoy being outdoors is a cornerstone of Teens to Trails’ programming. This type of support allows outing club advisers, who are also often overworked teachers, easy ways to bring their outing clubs outside.

Despite the ongoing challenges that these schools face as a result of the pandemic, Teens to Trails remains committed to supporting their outing clubs and providing safe and accessible ways for outings clubs to get outdoors; supporting 24 clubs all over the state.