Bill Harper, the founder and director of Pilgrim Trekking, has been working with young people in the wilderness for three decades. As an Episcopal Priest Bill developed a parish-based wilderness program for the young people in his own parish, a program that has changed and sustained parish youth for 20 years…

 

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Purpose

Sacred Ground

People change when they journey toward what they don’t yet know.  Our faith traditions are full of stories of Pilgrims traveling through an unknown Wilderness—and they are changed by the journey. Through those journeys, individuals and communities are transformed. They find themselves standing on sacred ground, sacred rock, among sacred mountains, sheltered by sacred trees. And most of all, by the sacred connections they have made with each other.

 

PilgrimTrekking’s mission is to help young people grow, change and transform by guiding them through their own Wilderness.  We seek out remote Wilderness settings, we gather groups, and we set out to find our holy ground and to find something sacred in ourselves.  

 

At PilgrimTrekking we work with congregations and youth groups to design multi-day backpacking trips ascending through remote parts of mountain ranges in Idaho and the North Cascades of Washington. And, we can create unique trips in areas you might want to travel. Our goal is to strengthen existing youth groups by offering them a chance to connect more deeply with each other, with themselves, and with the awe and wonder of the natural world.  Ultimately, we hope to strengthen and deepen faith in the Creator of that world, and the source of that awe and wonder. We want to strengthen individuals, build community, and deepen our faith in God, creation and each other.

 

We offer these journeys in a Christian context, broadly and richly defined.  We welcome many faith expressions, and we encourage lots of wondering.  We acknowledge on each journey that as Pilgrims we are Followers—and that we don’t travel alone.  

 

Here are just a few words of support from
past Pilgrims:

 

“…this experience changed the way I think about my current lifestyle and helped me identify and solidify things about myself .…”
                                    
—Kaitlyn

 

“ …this was a challenge, but a beautiful one…”

                                    —Madeleine

 

“ …our Leaders were some of the most caring, compassionate, accepting, laid back, and lovable people I know . . .”

                                    —CJ

 

“ …what I liked most about this trip was its intimacy and spirituality . . .”
                                      —Ricky

 

What We Offer

A Pilgrimage with PilgrimTrekking is unique. We know that there are many wilderness programs for young people. They are as varied as the trails they walk and mountains they climb. 

 

In some ways, our program is like so many others. Practically, we will provide you with engaged guidance and leadership to prepare your group for the journey. We have all of the essential gear needed. We provide great food, that participants will cook together. We offer adventure, challenge, and leadership development. We also know that our trips develop young resilience and promote genuine environmental stewardship. 

 

But, there is something purposefully unique about Pilgrim Trekking.  From the moment we load our packs we are building a community of trust and connection.  We are explicit about that.  The physical and emotional and spiritual challenges happen in that community.  Our Pilgrims do develop resilience, but it doesn’t happen in solo isolation.  Our commitment to mindfulness and compassion is not simply an inward journey, but openly involves mindfulness and compassion directed toward each other.  We live closely together as we travel, and we celebrate that.  The independence our participants gain on a Pilgrimage comes specifically through our interdependence as a  group of Pilgrims. And we explore not just faith in ourselves and each other, but also faith in a Life bigger and fuller than what we so often imagine.

 

Each of our trips offers practical experience coupled with faith experience.  We share faith and hope and love through simple, engaging daily prayer.  We take time to be quiet.  We genuinely care for each other.  A Pilgrimage with PilgrimTrekking is unique!

 

 

Signature Pilgrimage

Through our many years of experience, we have learned that a significant journey, a Pilgrimage, takes time and effort.  Our signature journey is 9-11 days, including travel time.  It is many days of trails and mountains and tents and full packs.  We push uphill over mountain passes, some reaching above 9,000 feet.  We cover 5-8 miles of trail on many days and spend our afternoons next to alpine lakes of remarkable remoteness and beauty.  We also have days of rest—and real “Sabbath.”

 

This Pilgrimage will likely begin and end in places that require coordinated travel to and from location. Dates can be arranged from July through August.  Our goal is to begin this Pilgrimage on a Sunday morning in your home congregation, where the Pilgrims are “blessed and sent.”  One of our Leaders will be there to travel with your Pilgrims as they make their way to the trailhead.  The trip ends with a chance for showers and feasting before returning home. 

 

Over the course of this Pilgrimage participants will have the chance to cook for each other, lead on the trail, learn simple navigation skills and practice “Leave No Trace” wilderness ethics.  We have learned over many years that the length of this trip, and the remote location, help to deepen the experience.  

 

 

Custom Journey

Yes, we are happy to build a trip around you and your group.  We can adjust the length of the Pilgrimage and we can add special components, from rock climbing and mountain biking, to service projects coupled with Wilderness adventure.  With every trip, our goal is to deepen the connection and spirit in your youth group.  If you reach out to us early, we will help you plan and create a transforming Pilgrimage!

 

 

We Provide

For every Pilgrimage, we will provide trained and trusted leadership.  We will supply all the tents, stoves, food and fuel.  The food is simple, nutritious and based on a formula to supply maximum calories.  We will teach cooking and backpacking travel skills.  We will assess safety and risk factors for your group.  Our leaders are not just able guides, they are dedicated to building connections with young people and opening their own lives to them.  We will provide physical and emotional and spiritual support, while also working to develop a new community and new relationships.

 

You’ll Need

Prior to your Pilgrimage, we will provide you with a detailed list of needed personal gear and clothing.  We will advise you about backpacks and boots and offer direction about how to keep packs as light as possible.  All our trips do involve some physical challenge, and participants will need to prepare in advance with some physical conditioning.  We’ll ask all participants to complete health forms and a liability release. 

 

Cost

We do our very best to make our costs accessible.  We are not trying to make a profit or run a business.  This is our Ministry! And yet we know well that “adventure experiences” for youth are expensive.  We try to keep our costs well below the industry standard of $200/day. For our primary trips, we estimate costs to be $100/day for each person exclusive of transportation to the trip start.  This cost covers food and group gear and leadership support.  Custom trips may cost more, depending on needs and location.  We also can advise and support your group with tested and effective fundraising within local congregations--fundraising that will help participants reduce their costs, and help your congregation connect with your Pilgrims.