In keeping with VA's distinguishing MAPS™ (My Action Plan for Success) program, Williams has set an ambitious goal of his own. His vision is to offer the program each summer at a different entry-point on the trail so that an incoming freshman that hikes each year could reach his or her goal of completing the 275-mile trail by senior year. Based on the overwhelming success of the pilot program, Williams is already thinking of ways to take more student hikers on Long Trail next summer.
"The Long Trail project is an extension of what I aim to provide students through Outdoor Programs. During our weeklong journey, students will hike over 40 miles, carry everything on their backs, live outside with the elements, and bond as a micro-community. As they test their physical and mental strength, students will experience an increased level of self-awareness and self-reliance—that's really empowering. As they learn more about themselves, they will determine their role to best serve the community. Working together as a whole and recognizing that each member of our community plays a vital part is an underpinning of Vermont Academy."
Along the way, students also learned about the biodiversity of Vermont's forest ecosystems through species identification of trees, birds, amphibians, and mammals, as well as lessons on the geological and cultural history of Vermont. The journey took the group through over 40 miles of central Vermont forest, passing by two majestic lakes and summiting several of Vermont's Green Mountains including its second highest mountain, Killington Peak.
"I walk slowly so that I can connect with nature. I can taste the forest. I want to drink the stars. I am transcending." Student hiker Kaijie Cai