On April 26th, nine employees of the Estes Park Center – YMCA will graduate from the TREK Program; on May 9th, thirteen employees of Snow Mountain Ranch – YMCA will graduate. For the past eight months, they have worked in various departments at their respective locations, as well as completed studies and service related to this Christian gap year program. The TREK program was specifically designed for youth ages 18-24 who want to take an extra year after high school to find their path. Past program participants have come from both national and international locations.
The program asks participants to answer and study three basic questions during their course: Who is God? Who am I? Where does God want me in this world? Through bible studies, outdoor adventures, leadership opportunities and career assessments, chaplain staff at both locations have guided and supported these young Trekkers.
Of the participants, Adam Johnson, Assistant Chaplain at Estes Park Center, says, “I’m always inspired by these participants to see where they will end up next on their journey. Some of them arrive here very shy and timid and when they leave they have a plan as to what they want to do with their lives. It takes real courage to make that transformation.”
Steve Peterson, Chaplain at Snow Mountain Ranch, says, “I’m always impressed by how talented and gifted these Trekkers are. If given the opportunity and motivated, they really become high achievers.”
One of the highlights of the program at Estes Park Center was the opportunity each Trekker had to shadow an Estes Park local in a career they wish to explore. From teachers, pastors, and chefs, to veterinarians, physical therapists, geologists, librarians and more, Trekkers spent time learning and observing these professionals.
In early May, all participants as well as chaplain staff will partake on a mission trip to the Sioux YMCA located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota where they will spend time in their after school program, serving meals, painting and building a bouldering wall.
As the graduation approaches, Trekker Tristan H. says, “You know as the time comes closer for me to leave Colorado, I can’t help but look back on everything that has happened, the things I’ve learned and all of the amazing people I’ve met along the way. I won’t say it’s been easy, heck there were times I wanted to quit and head home. But by staying here I’ve grown more than I ever thought I would.”
On reflecting on the program that is nearing its end, Trekker Olivia K. says, “This morning I woke up early on my day off to go work with sled dogs…The whole time we were going, I just couldn’t stop smiling and repeating to myself, ‘I love my life. I am for sure living the dream.’ I’m just so thankful for the opportunities that are being brought into my life. God is surely doing great things for me right now! Sure do miss my family and friends back at home, but I wouldn’t trade this adventure for the world!”
The YMCA of the Rockies is very proud of these young men and women who have grown so much during their time here.We are currently accepting application for the next season of Trekkers who will begin in the fall!