TREKS gets local youth into the wild

NORTH CREEK - Local youth wilderness enthusiasts ventured into the forests surrounding Ski Bowl Park on Saturday to learn safe hiking and guiding techniques from TREKS leaders.

TREKS, an outgrowth of the Johnsburg Youth Commission, has dedicated itself to providing activities for local children in order to get them out of the house and into the woods. It is in its first year of operation and is fashioned much like the Lake Placid Outing Club, which has been in operation for 20 years and has taken young people on many trips including hiking in the Alps and kayaking in the Caribbean.

"We hope to develop a safe appreciation in these children of the wilderness where we live," said Rick Morse, TREKS leader and co-founder.

Winter Survival Day as it was named stressed the importance of learning to survive in cold temperatures. Participants joined local DEC forest ranger Steve Ovitt and fellow leaders Morse and Steve Tomb in classroom learning as well as practical situations outside. They hiked away from the park and began to set up camp as if they were going to spend the night in the woods.

"The emphasis was on having fun and what to do in case of an emergency," said Morse.

Participants included Todd Millington, Patrick McCarroll, Shannon Ovitt, Seamus Tomb, Brendan Tomb, and Casey Tomb.

Morse acknowledged that these skills are necessary for safe lifetime activities and are also useful for making money in this area. Local rafting and hiking present many guide opportunities.

"Guiding involves skills," said Morse. "TREKS kids go to the woods and waters to gain a sense of adventure and learn to safely navigate the terrain."

TREKS has planned another trip to the Albany indoor rock gym for April 19. They are looking for interested youth as well as adult volunteers for this trip as well as to become leaders with TREKS. Contact TREKS co-founder Kelly Nessle at knessle@frontiernet.net for more information or to sign up.

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