My early high school experience was brutal. I found school to be overwhelming. It was so un-motivating, going to a school where the teachers hated their jobs and the kids hated them more. After a while I stopped attending classes all together. I would just get stoned with my friends and waste the day. I got suspended and later expelled from my school. I attended 3 schools after that, and screwed that up too. I really thought I was not cut out for it; like I was never going to leave high school, or never going to finish.

Then I stumbled upon Take a Hike last summer when I was looking to take a biology class. Take a Hike was offering it in July with a 6 day kayaking trip at the end. I had never really camped or even hiked at all before but I thought I would give it a try.

It was immediately obvious to me that this program demanded more from students. They had rules like push ups for swearing and laps for being late. We went out on a field day at least twice a week. We did fun things like kayaking and checked out the fossil collection at UBC. Because the school kept me engaged with hands on learning I absorbed more of what I was being taught.

I absorbed so much on our 6 day kayak trip because we were so close to what we were learning about. I saw harbour seals, deer, and sea cucumbers. I even held a small jellyfish. Though the scenery was beautiful and I learned a lot, at the time I really hated it. I was out of my comfort zone and being pushed to do more than I thought I was capable of was really hard.

But after the trip I realized how much the trip changed me. I felt appreciation for my friends, family and home. My dad told me when I got back I seemed happier, and I was. The next day I enrolled myself into the full Take a Hike program. Best decision I have made so far.

Take a Hike holds people accountable. It teaches you problem-solving skills and discipline. Even though they are hard on you sometimes, the teachers are solid. We do hands-on activities, like “raft day” on the very first day of school, or hiking The Chief in Squamish. We go snowshoeing, cross country skiing and more. I have tried more new things in this year than in my whole 17 years of existence.

Ever since I have enrolled in Take a Hike, my grades have improved and I am more engaged. I now LOVE all these new activities and I am willing to try anything new. I have made amazing friends this year, and met some pretty incredible teachers.

In Take a Hike, I can concentrate and I now understand my work better. I have found motivation to wake up and come to class. This program works perfectly for me and I think Take a Hike can help many kids in the same situation.

Courtesy of: Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation 

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