While many teenagers have spent the past few summers hanging out by the beach relaxing, Westwood High School freshman Dan Cook has participated in community service activities while going on group biking trips with Apogee Adventures.
“I was pretty into biking at the time,” Cook said about the period when he found out about the program. “This just pushed me into loving it even more.”
As a 12-year-old in 2010, Cook went on a trip to Cape Cod and the Islands. There he and the group of kids he went on the trip with spent some time helping out at the Farm Institute, an organic, working farm.
“The connections I made with some of the kids were great,” Cook said. “The leaders were fantastic. Overall it was just a really fun trip.”
In 2011, Cook went on another group trip, this time from Vermont to Montreal. His group helped out with a shoreline cleanup.
“Dan is a great example of the arc that we love to see in our students,” Apogee Adventures Director Chad Olcott said. “Watching a student’s personal confidence and community-mindedness blossom over the course of a trip, and in Dan’s particular case, watching that continue over multiple years, is the single most gratifying thing about my job.”
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This past summer, Cook went to Bozeman, Montana, to Glacier National Park. There he worked with Rangers to install water bars and perform other trail maintenance.
He also helped work at Helena Food Share, a non-profit that helps feed Helena’s most needy residents, by cleaning the facility and stocking the shelves.
In addition, Cook and the group volunteered at the Browning Boys and Girls Club on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana. Overall, Cook performed 25 hours of community service on the trip.
“Dan has always been a caring young man, but it’s been really neat to watch his conscientiousness and selfless participation in camp life grow over the last couple of years,” Olcott said.
Olcott said the leaders on Cook’s trip this year said that, “instead of waiting to be asked to do something, Dan would anticipate what needed to be done and just do it… It was apparent that Dan sincerely wanted to make a difference for the organizations that our group worked with this summer.”
Cook is already planning on going on another trip with Apogee Adventures this summer, but he’s not sure where the trip will take him. But he does know that for a couple of weeks he’ll be spending time with a small group of other teenagers pedaling away and making a few stops along the way to pitch in to the local communities.