Trekking through the mountains


Georgie Bittenbender of Alstead treks in the Uapishka Mountains in Quebec as part of a Kroka Expeditions trip.

Next year, students of a local wilderness education group plan to hike, ski and paddle their way between northern Quebec and New York City.

The expedition, dubbed Arctic to Manhattan, is a new semester-long trek led by Marlow-based outdoor education organization Kroka Expeditions.

According to Taylor Huntley, semester coordinator for the Arctic to Manhattan expedition, the expedition is the longest itinerary — from north to south — the organization has ever offered.

The program, which has space for 16 students between ages 16 and 20, will start at Kroka’s Marlow farm in January. Over four weeks, students will participate in winter adventure sports and study an academic program of French language immersion, geography and navigation, and expedition leadership, among other topics.

Then, they’ll set off on foot for a four-month trek that will venture from the Green Mountains of Vermont into Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula and Uapishka Mountains.

“The program’s founded in Waldorf philosophy,” Huntley said. “So there’s a direct relationship with nature that we’re teaching, but that kind of manifests itself in crafts and in skiing and in also working outdoors.”

Students will develop their skills in backcountry skiing, outdoor living and wilderness leadership while also completing accredited academic courses — such as an environmental history class — for high school or college credit, offered by Craftsbury, Vt.-based Sterling College.

“Which all feeds into the philosophical foundation in place-based education and really studying the natural and cultural history of the places that we go,” Huntley said.

The group will then set off on a roughly 185-mile canoeing trip from the Canadian border to New York City, traversing Lake Champlain into the Hudson River all the way to Manhattan’s Battery Park.

They’ll spend a week there focusing on social and environmental justice, partnering with organizations to learn about composting, rooftop gardening and social justice through theater.

“A big tenet of wilderness education is taking what you learn in the wild and in these remote places — with such intense small-group dynamics and harsh physical and mental challenge — back to society and what you can do with your knowledge at that point,” Huntley said.

The trip concludes in June with two weeks of community service projects back in Marlow, Huntley said. In the past, students have worked on projects such as rehabilitating historic mills, painting murals and developing local trail networks.

“It is really taking the idea of self-actualization in the wilderness with a group, with a small group of people, and honing your interpersonal skills and self-reliance and how those things can be brought back to create a positive change in the world,” Huntley said.

More information about the Arctic to Manhattan expedition is available at Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through mid-November.

Three students at ConVal Regional High School in Peterborough have been selected to attend the 2019 Hugh O’Brian Leadership Conference at St. Anselm College in May. The weekend-long conference in Manchester focuses on ethical leadership with workshops, panels and speakers, and an estimated 7,500 sophomores attend the seminars in all 50 states and Canada each year.

Sophomores Henry Bernstein, Erich Clark and Abigail Theberge were selected from a pool of 17 ConVal sophomores nominated by school staff.

Henry Bernstein, son of Dr. David and Samantha Bernstein of Hancock, is vice president of ConVal’s German Club, a member of the Revolution Ethics Project and a member of the Ocean Bowl team. He has also participated in track and cross country at the high school.

Erich Clark, son of Jeffrey and Casandra Clark of Peterborough, is a member of the ConVal student council and plays varsity football and junior varsity basketball. He previously received the high school’s Cougar Award, as well an NHIAA Sportsmanship Award.

Abigail Theberge, daughter of Timothy and Stacy Theberge of Hancock, is student adviser to the Contoocook Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center and participates in ConVal’s select choir and girls a cappella group. She is a member of the International Thespian Society and has performed in ConVal theatrical productions, as well as the New Hampshire Educational Theatre Guild Festival.

What’s going on in your school? Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or