The piercing sounds of birds chirping, grasshoppers buzzing, and creatures rustling through the woods were all clear signs our Boys’ Club members were out of the hustle-and-bustle that is New York City. In September 2019, seven young-men-adventurers embarked on a fifteen-mile journey through the Appalachians trail–a voyage that solidified their presence as BCNY’s first-ever McKenna Expeditionary Team!
The McKenna Expeditionary Team is a group of advanced wilderness explorers who are excelling in school and are active members of BCNY’s Harriman Base Camp (HBC) program. The members are committed to testing and expanding their limits and taking their outdoor experiences to a new level. The team is led by BCNY’s Teen Director Otha Caldwell and Physical Education Director Amar Kelly. Both Amar and Otha achieved wilderness training through the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and also have advanced wilderness first-aid training.
As the McKenna Expeditionary Team traveled out of the city, they were reminded that this trip would involve rigorous challenges–and a reliance on previous training would be needed for optimal success. Preparing for a fifteen-mile hike was not an easy task. The trek tested their knowledge of skills such as tent-pitching, map-reading, and poisonousness-plant awareness. With the full support of group leaders, members learned about the importance of specific gear that would prove crucial to enduring their hike. And as they took the first steps on their journey to explore the woods, they would discover something even more profound: the importance of brotherhood, fellowship, and comradery.
During the hike, members of the McKenna Expeditionary Team took reflection breaks, shared stories, and took in the beautiful scenery. Afterward, they discussed ways they would implement the life skills they learned.
Members returned home feeling connected to nature, competent in their efforts, enriched with their character as young men, and confident they could survive the next expedition. As they continue to mature into adulthood, they will have this experience to lean on and help them conquer any of life’s obstacles.