On March 12th IGNITE sponsored a hiking trip to the Delaware Water Gap located on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The day started off with a quick welcome and check-in at Newark Penn Station. A few “Family Feud” trivia cards and introductions later, as a team of three students and two teacher volunteers, we were ready to start their adventure. On the 10 minute warm-up hike to get to the car, the we all swapped past hiking experiences. We loaded up their supplies and began their hour-long drive towards the state border.
The journey flew by with stories, riddles, and songs that set mood for the road trip. The other two students and us volunteers were extra impressed with one student’s recommendation of “Electro Swing”, a genre that combines modern jazz with house music. By the time the group stopped to pick-up lunch, everyone had been assigned nicknames by one particularly creative student. The students were so eager to get hiking that it took a mere 15 minutes to make their selections at Subway and then it was back on the road!
We reached the trailhead at approximately 11:45 am and took a “before” picture to document the monumental moment. It was literally all uphill from there — for the next hour and half. Students alternated between sprinting, leaping, strolling, and panting their way up the mountain side. They were patient with the climb and encouraged each other to keep going. One student wanted to quit multiple times but his new friends cheered him on.
Prior to reaching the summit, we stopped for lunch. While eating, the two older students were able to give some advice to a younger student. They passed down information about their biggest mistakes, what they wish they would’ve known before entering high school, and what they love the most about their school. The group also talked about post-high school goals and how to achieve them. Re-energized and well-feed, the team was able to push through another 10 minutes of steep terrain to the top.
At the top, we spent 10 minutes taking in the wide-open space of the valley and the Delaware River. We then began their descent towards the parking lot. Along the way, all three students stopped to choose hiking sticks, throw some rocks, and play around near a waterfall. By the time everyone had piled into the car, all of us were exhausted but felt very accomplished.