Four Trails Adventure Program

Connecting themes of leadership, own best self, and community engagement through adventure trips for teens.

Campers challenge themselves to do more than they ever thought possible while developing lifelong skills of leadership, cooperation, and respect for self, others, and the natural world. These “mobile communities” spend their time on the roads, waterways, and trails of Michigan, New England, and Canada, learning the art of wilderness travel and discovering their personal best in settings that challenge them to step outside of their comfort zone and engage with real-world challenges.

As teenagers are invited to explore their values, they can begin to see the transformative power they can have on their home communities and the world.

Aspire Nobly.

Four Trails campers envision a bright future for the world in bold ways, imagining new solutions to the problems faced by their communities. They also recognize their own place in the larger ecology of the world and seek to preserve the beauty and function of the natural world.

Adventure Daringly.

Four Trails campers bravely explore the world around them, experiencing the world in new and challenging ways. They also venture inward, practicing vulnerability and empathy as they learn to express their own needs and support the needs of others.

Serve Humbly.

Four Trails campers desire to make an active and positive difference in the world. They believe in  building authentic and sustainable relationships with various communities and recognize the impact of their actions on these communities.

Program Outcomes

Best Self

On trail, My own self, At my very best, All the time becomes a daily mantra as Four Trails participants explore what it means to be the best version of themselves. Days are designed to be physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually challenging in the hopes that as participants enter their growth zone, they begin to develop a deeper understanding of who they are and what they are capable of achieving.

Balanced Living

Days on trail are designed to balance the physical, social, mental, and spiritual challenges of trail life, keeping in mind that as participants enter their growth zone, they will begin to develop a better sense of who they are and what they are capable of achieving.

Inclusive Community

Creating a mobile community is one of the most important aspects of the Four Trails experience. Each year, campers are invited to engage fully in a community set apart from their daily routine. They are invited to discover and develop their own best self, while seeing and respecting the best in others as well.

Creating an inclusive community also requires recognizing the important relationship between the in-camp and out-camp community. Four Trails campers are among the oldest campers in the community and serve as positive role models for younger participants. The in-camp community also fuels Four Trails campers as they send letters and encourage them on trail, in addition to welcoming them back upon their return.

Positive Difference

Regular conversations during morning and evening meetings as well as throughout the day invite reflection on what campers did, why they did it, and what impact their actions had. This immersion in an intentional community allows participants to gain a greater understanding of the positive difference they can make. We hope campers leave excited and empowered to make a positive difference in their home communities.

Safety at Merrowvista

We are committed to remaining in constant dialogue within and outside of the camp community to help us continually refine the safety of our adventure trip program. We take safety seriously and take proactive measures to reduce risk for our participants. Though specific safety protocols vary based on trip-type, most can be categorized in the 4 distinct areas, summarized below:

Healthy Risk

Just as our in-camp programs encourage campers to take social, emotional, and physical risks in healthy and safe ways, our adventure programs are designed to challenge campers to take healthy risks in an environment where they can feel safe, supported, and valued. We encourage campers to try new things, to ask questions, and to explore what it means to be their own self in settings outside of their comfort zones.

Pre-Trip Preparation and Assessment Protocols

All campers and leaders must arrive with a base level of physical and mental readiness that will allow them to participate for several hours in physically and mentally rigorous activities. Cycling trip participants have additional pre-trip requirements that ensure campers are familiar with basic cycling skills as well as the rules of the road.

Routine Safety Monitoring for All Trip Groups

Some of our protocols for monitoring trip safety include: daily group check-ins with camp coordinators, group safety and first aid briefings, cell phone and satellite phone support, in addition to van and transportation support when applicable.

Post-Trip Debrief and Route Evaluation

Our post-trip safety protocols include facilitated trip debriefs between coordinators, trip leaders, and campers, ongoing route evaluations including contact with local and state officials, and annual route review conducted by camp directors and coordinators.

Core Progression

Explorer (Entering Grade 9)

In their introduction to the Four Trails program at Merrowvista, Explorers take on two trips, along the trails and waterways of Maine and New Hampshire. While being introduced to the basic skills of backpacking and canoeing, they learn to rely on each other to create a strong sense of mobile community and to tackle challenges as a group. At the same time, they being to develop their own sense of self within the community, exploring the impact of their actions and their own voice.

For more informaton on Explorer at Merrowvista, click here.

Adventurer (Entering Grade 10)

Adventurer participants take on two adventures as they participate in their first Merrowvista cycling experience through coastal Maine. Additionally, Adventurers will hike through the stunning Saddleback and Bigelow mountain ranges along the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, they are immersed in and challenged to explore the cultural heritage of each of these unique locations while also exploring some of the most beautiful landscapes of New England.

For more information on Adventurer at Merrowvista, click here.

Voyageur (Entering Grade 11)

Voyaguer campers take on the new adventure of traveling through Canada by cycling along the coast of Nova Scotia for 3 or 4 weeks. Voyageur campers begin to take on more defined leadership roles as they work with their leaders to help plan and facilitate evening reflections, cook meals for their groups, and help define the flow of their days cycling.

For more information on Voyageur at Merrowvista, click here.

Odyssey (Entering Grade 12)

As a culminating experience in the Four Trails progression, Odyssey is designed to offer the opportunity to reflect on past experiences and to launch campers toward their future with new skills, confidence, and knowledge of themselves. Odyssey campers at Merrowvista hike the final 120 miles of the historic Appalachian Trail. At the end of their 15-day journey, they’ll summit Mt. Katahdin, the northern terminus of trail. Upon their return to camp, all Odyssey campers have the opportunity to be celebrated and to share their reflections with the entire camp community.

For more information on Odyssey at Merrowvista, click here.

Four Trails Adventures