The Expeditionary Semester - High Desert Center
1447
page-template-default,page,page-id-1447,qode-quick-links-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode_grid_1300,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,qode-theme-ver-11.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.2.1,vc_responsive
 

The Expeditionary Semester

THRU HIKE THE ARIZONA TRAIL

800 miles stretched between the borders of Mexico and Utah.

WHO

10-12 participants, ages 17-23–flexible

WHERE

The Arizona Trail, from Mexico to Utah

WHEN

March 11 to May 20, 2019

COST

$3,850

  • The Expeditionary Semester

    Hike almost every day for ten weeks. Learn new skills like whittling, bird identification, or juggling. Live in community. Navigation. Adventure planning. Communication workshops.

  • Are you ready to.....

    Sing in three-part harmonies. Make lifelong friends. Get in great shape. Learn the night sky.

  • Can't wait to.....

    Watch sunrises. Cook outside. Meet other thru-hikers and hear their stories. Document your adventures. Check thru-hiking off on your bucket list. Plan your next, great adventure.

This semester is for those excited about life on the trail.  Join us for ten weeks and over 800 miles of walking through some of the most spectacular landscapes Arizona has to offer. We’ll form a tight knit community as we meet the challenges, the rewards, and the unexpected turns of this rugged trail. On top of that, we’ll engage in a meaningful examination of immigration and border issues and learn how to sing in three-part harmonies. This semester will shape your values and character while giving you the skills necessary for adventure planning, building and contributing to community, and being a great friend.

When do I apply?

 The first round of Interviews happen in August of 2018.

Previous programs have filled quickly.  Full Gap Year participants get first priority. We recommend applying soon.

More about the Expeditionary Semester

IMG_1530 (1)

Hiking

The Arizona Trail, a stretch of trail linking Mexico to Utah, was designated a National Scenic Trail in 2009 and completed on 2011—it’s relatively new. Over the 800+ miles, we’ll encounter both interesting communities and people as well as diverse ecosystems: deserts, mountains, and canyons. We’ll pass through Saguaro National Park and the Grand Canyon, witness the spring bloom of wildflowers, and resupply in charming “trail towns”.

On this expedition, it’s inevitable that we’ll navigate tough times and encounter unknown challenges. These moments provide the context to explore both teammate and leadership skills.  In the process you’ll learn about yourself, be challenged to grow, and master a number of relevant outdoor skills, from outdoor cooking to risk management as well as life skills like practicing patience and honing your sense of humor even in stressful situations.

If you are new to hiking, we’ve got you covered–you’ll be carrying minimal gear thanks to our support vehicle and we’ll start with lower milage days, hiking 9-12 miles. By the end of the trip we’ll be in such great shape that we’ll tackle a few twenty mile days. Once a week we’ll take a rest-day to catch-up on e-mails and laundry, and if you’re having a rough day, you can alway ride along in the support vehicle.

Exploring Immigration

Immigration issues are front and center in news headlines, without much attention on the complex realities of many immigrants’ lives. While we hike across landscapes that are traveled by those who decide to cross the border, we will take time to consider this arduous journey that often results in arrest by the Border Patrol and deportation. We’ll consider the factors that motivate these folks to take this risk, the effects it has on our society, and the various responses people have to immigrants. We’ll talk to human rights groups active in the area as well as with Border Patrol, and in the evenings after hiking, we’ll read and discuss relevant books around the fire.

qtq80-ULRBOC
qtq80-mly2rR

Singing

Our staff not only loves to hike–we love to sing in harmonies and rounds. Together we will develop a shared repertoire of folk songs: work songs, political resistance songs, healing songs, and celebratory songs from across the centuries and the globe. We’ll practice on the trail, as we cook our meals, and in the evening as we watch the stars. All the music will be taught by ear and will surely delight the people we meet along the trail. Even if you aren’t a practiced singer, these songs all have a simple base for beginners with more complex harmonies for those with singing experience.

The Expeditionary Semester FAQs

WHAT DOES OUR DAILY SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?

The answer depends on where we are and what we’re doing.  Most days we’ll be up with the sun, preparing a group meal and lunches and then hitting the trail. After walking ten or so miles, we’ll set up camp and then have some down time before dinner and an evening around the fire either singing or talking about boarder issues. Other days we might meet with someone from an immigration advocacy group, explore a “trail town”, or meet up with a boarder patrol agent. At least once per week we’ll have a day off for doing laundry, sleeping in and generally taking care of ourselves.

WHERE DOES THE TRIP START AND END?

We will pick up and drop off participants at the Phoenix airport during the morning of the start and end dates.

ARE THERE ANY ADDITIONAL COSTS?

The program fee includes all food, transportation, and activities while the group is together but does not include your individual transportation to and from Phoenix and optional spending money for personal purchases or activities. You will need to provide your own health insurance.  You will also be asked to come with some of your own outdoor equipment, like a sleeping bag, hiking boots and a water filter.  An equipment list will be provided after you are accepted to the program.

CAN I GET COLLEGE CREDIT ON THIS PROGRAM?

This program is not available for college credit. If you are seeking college credit please consider The Watershed Semester.

WHAT IF I HAVE SPECIAL FOOD NEEDS?

We are  accustomed to meeting the needs of vegetarians and vegans, although you should expect to eat local beans and walnuts rather than avocados and soy cheese.  We can also minimize gluten, although it has proven challenging to serve those who are strongly celiac (we have done it).  If you have special food needs that aren’t easily met with a simple, whole foods based diet, you might need to supplement with your own snacks.  Please talk with us well in advance about your special needs.

WHAT KIND OF PHYSICAL CHALLENGES SHOULD I BE PREPARED FOR?

Participants should already be in decent shape by the time they arrive, able to comfortably walk six miles in two hours while carrying a light pack that contains food, 2-3 liters of water, and some layers. We also suggest training on hills beforehand as the first portion of our hike is steep.

WHAT POLICIES & PROCEDURES WILL I BE ASKED TO AGREE TO IN THIS PROGRAM?

We will ask you to sign an agreement form that includes:

  • No use of drugs (including tobacco and marijuana) and alcohol.
  • Doing your share of cooking and cleaning.
  • Abiding by fire and general safety procedures.
  • Participating fully in program activities unless there is agreement otherwise.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

  • Participants, and their parents if participants are not legal adults, will be asked to sign a release form before the program starts acknowledging the risks associated with this program.  They include the risks inherent to backcountry travel in rough and remote county, traveling in Mexico, working on farms, and travel in vans and cars driven by staff.
  • Participants are often unsupervised by staff during days off and certain adventures.
  • Participants, by consent, may also engage in dumpster diving, skinny dipping, and other unconventional but safe adventures.

WHAT FORMS ARE NEEDED AS PART OF THE APPLICATION?

After the interview, if you have been offered enrollment, we will hold your spot for two weeks and ask you to make a $1000 payment and complete and send in medical history and consent forms as well as an acknowledgement of risk form.  When we receive these, we will formally accept you and give you a spot in the program.