Swapping Books for Bikes – Apogee School Trips

By: Izzy Janzen, Assistant Director

As the season of trip logistics and campground reservations shifts into full gear in the office we are also in the thick of planning for a school spring trip. Gasp! A spring trip you say? That’s right! For many years Apogee has worked with school groups in the spring facilitating various end-of-year trips or elective exploration week trips. These groups have ranged from full eighth grade classes to mixtures of all high school grades.

Last year, myself and two other lovely Assistant Directors, Jack and Hannah, had the pleasure of running one of these trips together – a five day cycle touring trip along the C&O canal, ending in Washington, D.C. Not only was it a blast for us to get out of the office, stretch our legs, and work with some awesome students, but it also served as a welcome refresher of everything we love about Apogee.

Hannah, Izzy & Jack in leader mode!

We learned that school groups require a bit of a different approach as trip leaders. Typically, as a leader, you come into day one of a trip with your co-leader and 12 students (who may know one other person on trip or no one at all). You have a fantastic opportunity to start with a blank slate, to set the tone for an inclusive group dynamic, and to forge friendships and facilitate an “Apogee family” from scratch.

However, with a school group, the kids all know each other already. We were the odd ones out! There are months, often years, of pre-formed relationships and dynamics that we stepped right into on day one. Our role, then, was more simply to facilitate a smooth and fun adventure, to encourage ways for further bonding off of what already existed, and to hopefully bring people together who might not typically interact in their school environment.

Riding along the sunny C&O!

We learned that, while different, working with school groups is still both rewarding and enormously fun! Many things stay the same – the baseline is a great group of kids who have the opportunity to embark on a rewarding adventure together. It’s also fun for us to share Apogee traditions and games with these groups and for them to share their traditions and games with us. What you end up with is a group that has formed their own unique school-Apogee hybrid dynamic. Some of these students take their Apogee experience to the next level, and decide to apply with us for one of our summer programs. We love making these connections!

The group explores D.C. together after a few days of riding!

So, while we aren’t running trips for parents or guiding personal family vacations yet (though they are in surprisingly popular demand), we are enjoying running trips for school groups. Keep us in mind if your school is looking to run an early or late spring outdoor trip!