The Mission’s Journey program is set to explore Maine with an adventurous set of summer excursions. A youth mentoring program aimed to support student college and career aspirations, Journey has six cohorts of 7th to 12th graders. Journey provides individual and family support, outdoor excursions, leadership, and experiences. Also, it gives access to professionals and community mentors, college and career exploration, preparation workshops, and help applying for scholarships.
The goal is to help them develop tools to succeed in transitioning to high school, higher education, or a career. “Career and college readiness are our two main focuses,” said Journey Program Manager Dakin Hewlett. “We work with our partner schools to recruit students into the program. The schools’ partnership and support is important to our success.” Students hail from Narraguagus Jr./Sr. High School and Cherryfield Elementary students explore the outdoors and their communities.
Ultimately, the student gets to decide to apply for Journey or not. Completing our application begins a Journey conversation with students and caregivers. Conversations, in turn, help families make informed decisions about joining us,” Dakin explained. In 2021, Journey engaged 43 students from 7th to 11th grade and conducted 557 hours of programming. In 2022, a new batch of 7th graders formed cohort 6.
“It’s not a small journey,” she continued. “It is a six-year commitment to start with us in 7th grade and stick with us through 12th grade. That is dedication. And it is another reason communicating with Journey families and schools is so important,” she said.
To help motive students to take part during the program, Journey cohort experiences are designed around student school academics and extracurricular activities. For example, these activities include cohort meetings, field trips, and overnight excursions.
Throughout a student’s six years, said Dakin, Journey staff “have individual check-ins with students, talks with student caregivers, support their individual and family needs, and help connect them with community resources.”
“We do outdoor excursions, field trips, and diverse activities is to provide opportunities for students to explore interests and envision potential future pathways,” Dakin explained. For 2022, overnight excursions for 7th through 11th Journey students include:
7th Grade – Three days in June at Acadia National Park.
8th Grade – Four days in July on Swan’s Island.
9th Grade – Four days in August at Baxter State Park.
10th Grade – Four days in July around the Portland region.
11th Grade – Visit college campus throughout the year.
Finally, each summer the Journey cohorts cap the year with a celebratory excursion. Dakin related, “You never know what’s going to ignite that spark. Maybe an outdoor hike, or walking through a museum. It might happen while camping out at the Community Center, creating art, or doing a community service project.”
To learn more, explore the Mission’s Journey web page.