Trail Blazers Leadership Expedition
- Length: 28 days
- Dates: June 21- July 18
- Grades: 12th- college freshmen
- Begins and Ends: GRP Base Camp, Cedar Mountain, NC
- Airport: Asheville, NC or Greenville/Spartenburg, SC
- Cost: $2,900
- Challenge Level: Moderate or 6 on a 1-10 scale
Expeditioners who participate in our Trail Blazers Leadership (TBX) trip seek more of a challenge both physically and mentally. Over the course of four weeks, Expeditioners will contribute to building a trail for the Preserve, get hands on leadership experience by working and teaching GRP base campers, and have the option of earning college credit with Queens University. The trip leaders step back and allow the Expeditioners to make decisions, allowing participants to hone their leadership skills in areas like group management, decision making, organization and planning, backcountry cooking, and orienteering. Like all of our Expeditions, no experience is needed or required.
“TBX has taught me to treat each situation carefully and that sometimes you have to make compromises to make the group happy. Responsibility is key and makes for a great transition to college.” – 12th Grade Male, Durham, NC
Leadership Training and Life Skills Development
The heart of the Trail Blazers Leadership Expedition is leadership training and life skills development. While participating in TBX, Expeditioners will actively contribute to activities involving each other, their leaders, other camp staff, and GRP base campers. The first portion of our program consist of hard wilderness skills such as low impact camping, food management, First Aid and CPR training, and the basics of sustainable trail building. GRP recognizes good leaders are more than just the hard skills and we equally value the importance of developing soft skills like group management and communication. Taught from a leader’s perspective, we emphasize these soft skills, and provide Expeditioners daily with opportunities to lead and manage the group process. The balance of hard and soft skills are qualities we look for in our future staff members. You will leave TBX feeling confident, challenged, and prepared with a toolbox of life skills.
Wilderness First Aid and CPR Training
Trailblazers Expeditioners will be trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR with Landmark Learning and Wilderness Medical Insititute during the Expedition. This is a requirement for all GRP staff members and an extremely valuable skill for any young adult. Participants will have the option of earning 1 credit hour for completing this course in addition to other credit hours with Queens University.
Service Project: Sustainable Trail Building
Over the first three weeks of the Expedition, Expeditioners will make a lasting impression on the Preserve. The crew will work on a variety of backcountry trail maintenance projects like rock work, drainage, earth moving, bridge building, and new trail construction. Classes will be taught on what sustainable trail building is, the tools necessary to build a trail, and how to use them. Embedded throughout the trail days are leadership lessons and decision making opportunities made by the Expeditioners. We strongly believe the trail is a vehicle for leadership training and life skills development. Our unique and practical curriculum is designed to challenge each participant and develop transferable and critical job skills.
Walk in the shoes of a GRP Staff Member
Throughout the first three weeks of the Expedition, we will be preparing the Expeditioners to be the guide, the naturalist, the mentor, the wilderness leader for our GRP base campers. Expeditioners will have the opportunity to lead a trail building Group Learning Project day with up to 12 GRP campers. In addition, up to three days of the final week of the Expedition will be spent shadowing GRP mentors on naturalist hikes and assisting staff in leading activities. Not only will Expeditioners greatly expand their toolbox with hands-on teaching experience, they will have the opportunity to share their expertise with younger campers.
Whitewater Rafting on the Chattooga River
At the conclusion of our trip we will trade in our trail tools and teaching hats for a riveting whitewater rafting trip. Expeditioners will get to experience the thrill of rafting through the Chattooga River, the southeast’s largest free-flowing river. Surrounded by natural wilderness, Expeditioners will spend two days tackling some of the river’s most exciting and adventurous rapids of Section III and IV with professional raft guides.
Day 1: Arrival
You will begin your Expedition by meeting your leaders at the Green River Preserve Base Camp. Once the whole group is together we will do some brief introductions and then head on to our base camp. Upon arrival, the leaders will familiarize the group with our new home and everyone will have some time to get settled.
Day 2 – 5: Wilderness First Aid Training, Orientation and Skills
We will begin the Expedition with guest teachers from Landmark Learning and Wilderness Medical Institute teaching a 2-day Wilderness First Aid course. This hands-on training course will help you prepare for the unexpected and introduce you to caring for people who become injured far from medical care. You will finish the course with the knowledge, skills, and ability to make sound decisions in emergency situations.
Following the Wilderness First Aid course we will learn: the routine; including what is expected of you as an Expeditioner, our leadership goals, and all the skills you will need for building a trail. The leaders will take the time to teach the group every tool and provide time to work with each tool before hitting the trail. With the leaders we will bushwhack through the expected trail area and get the feel of the terrain. We will also take the time in certain spots to discuss specific building projects, and explore what previous TBXers have accomplished and what can be learned from past TBX trails on your new trail.
Day 6 – 20: Building the Trail and Building Leaders
For the next week and a half you and your fellow TBXers will help construct a trail for the use of the Preserve. Like a true trail crew, we will wake up early, eat breakfast, and hit the trail with Pulaski in hand after our morning stretch and safety session. Trail days are long and challenging, and we make it interesting with lessons and various leadership-training activities. We will have the opportunity to learn from several senior mentors of the Preserve, as well as from the TBX leaders, and GRP Camp Directors. Staff will help prepare the group for the mentor hike we will lead and the all day Group Learning Project we will create to do with GRP base campers. These leaders will also teach you assorted helpful skills when applying for college and jobs, such as: what people are looking for when you apply, interview training, and how to really sell your GRP experience.
Day 21-25: Counselor and Job Training
For the next three days we will get the opportunity to apply all the leadership skills we have learned and experience what it is like to be GRP staff. In the mornings we will assist with Mentor Hikes and learn more about the Preserve, and in the afternoon we will help with Activities, learning first hand how to lesson plan and teach.
Day 26-27: Whitewater Rafting Trip
As a reward for all our hard work we will go rafting down sections III and IV of the wild and scenic Chattooga River. We will camp out on the river and enjoy delectable meals provided by the Nantahala Outdoor Center River Guides.
Day 28: Final Day
Our last day on TBX will be spent reflecting on all we have learned and experienced the past 3 weeks. Along with packing up we will have the chance to solo walk our trail, eat one last pack out lunch, and write a letter of advice to the next group of TBXers. We will end our trip with a sunset dinner provided by our Expedition Directors and a final celebration of completing the Trailblazer Expedition!
We reserve the right to alter the itinerary prior to and throughout the trip. Itineraries may change due to: severe weather, student ability, motivation and conditioning, high or low rivers, high or low snow pack, unpredictable natural disasters, vehicle breakdowns, road closures, forest fires, illness, ever changing permit regulations, any potential threat to safety; even a brilliant idea from an instructor or student. In the event of a schedule change, comparable activities will be substituted when possible and you will be notified by e-mail of significant changes.
Download the Trailblazers Expeditions Packing List.