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Slideshow: Bonding and Building Trails in a New Community

Posted by Loren D at Mar 06, 2014 10:55 AM |

With help from WTA's gear lending library and mini-grants, a group of teens with the Coalition of Refugees from Burma gave back to Washington's trails and got to know each other better as they built a new section of trail on Cougar Mountain.

For many hikers, the idea of taking a walk in the woods may seem like no big deal. Just grab your boots, throw a few essentials in a pack and hit the trail, right? For 21 students who recently volunteered a day on Cougar Mountain's Precipice Top Trail, the journey into Washington's wild spaces proved a little more complicated. For one thing, it started in Burma.

Before February 20, many of the students—refugees from Burma—had never had the opportunity, gear, or transportation to get out and enjoy Washington's trails. But by taking advantage of the workshops and resources of WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program, the youth program leaders at Coalition of Refugees from Burma were able to provide their students a day of team-building and camaraderie while improving a trail in peaceful woodlands of Cougar Mountain.

OLT: Training and equipping community leaders

In October, Siobhan Whalen, the Youth Programs Coordinator for the Coalition, attended WTA's Day Hike Gear Orientation. Participating in the workshop qualified Whalen for access to WTA’s new gear lending library to outfit students and chaperones. A mini-grant from WTA also covered expenses for the bus and trip costs.

"Without the mini-grant, borrowed boots, rain-gear, water bottles and backpacks, this incredible group of teens simply wouldn't have been able to spend the day on trail with us," said Andrew Pringle, the Outdoor Leadership Training Coordinator.

Building a community, along with a new trail

The students completed a tremendous amount of work building a brand new section of trail on public lands in their community.

"They picked up quickly on what needed to get done, worked well together as teams, and got a lot of nice new trail constructed," said Jack Simonson from King County Parks and Recreation. "I was really impressed with their motivation and the quality of their work."

Even better, the students got to spend time with each other away from the stresses of building a new life in a new country, something that Whalen said the teens don't always get a chance to do.

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Coalition of Refugees from Burma Youth Group on Cougar Mountain
A youth group from the Coalition of Refugees from Burma had fun as they helped build a new section of a Cougar Mountain trail, with help from WTA's gear lending library and a mini-grant. Photo by Andrew Pringle.