Before I joined Take a Hike, in simple terms, I was lost. I failed most of my classes in Grade 11, probably because I never went. I spent most of my time smoking weed with my friends and crying over how unfortunate my life was. I did not have any motivation or inspiration to change, I did not want any.

I heard of Take a Hike through a good friend. I had done quite a few hikes over the summer and the school seemed perfect. I would get to hike, go camping and have some extra discipline; everything I hated but knew was exactly what I needed.

The school was not what I expected. In all honesty I hated it in the beginning, I felt like I had no control, I was being told what to do and it was only the first week. With an 8-day expedition approaching, the anxiety of knowing I would not have my cigarettes or my boyfriend came like a wave and I felt like I was drowning.
I survived the 8-day canoe trip to my surprise, and not just that, I actually feel like I found myself out there. The moment my paddle hit the lake, the anxiety, fear and resistance seemed to be washed away. I learned more about myself on that trip than I have in my whole high school career.
Take a Hike offers me everything I seemed to need yet somehow lacked in life. I have consistency now, a supportive, caring group of adults, and a place where I can thrive, not just survive. Not only do we get these amazing camp trips and out days every Thursday, but I get a lunch every day, I get provided with the proper clothing necessary for the expeditions. I get the opportunity to volunteer and give back to my community every week.

Without Take a Hike, I would not have the relationships I do, I would still be skipping school and behind in all my classes. I would still be lost. I made honor role for the first time ever at Take a Hike. Before I never thought I would ever go to post-secondary. Now I plan to be a teacher; specifically for alternative schools.

In exactly one week from now I will be a part of the largest field trip in Canadian history. I will be climbing the tallest freestanding mountain in the world – summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa with another Take a Hike student. In the summer I will be doing service work in Mexico for two weeks and next year thanks to Take a Hike may be working in Hong Kong teaching youth how to surf. My future is looking big and bright, and without Take a Hike, I would never have the confidence or ability to do these amazing things and take these once in a lifetime opportunities.

So thank you, all of you for making this all this a possibility – for helping my dreams come true. And thank you for actually caring about us; for believing in us.

Courtesy of: Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation 

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