Building Outdoor Experiences with AMC’s Teen Trail Crews

July 28, 2016
Appalachian Trail Sunrise from Catfish Fire Tower
Benjamin GetraerAppalachian Trail Sunrise from Catfish Fire Tower

This is my second year working for AMC, but I have been professionally involved with trail construction, and more importantly, volunteer team building, for six years now. Each year I get older, each year my body aches a little bit more, and every single year I become more and more amazed at how impactful a program like AMC’s Teen Trail Crew can be.

Life is a lot different now versus when I was a kid. I remember getting my first Nintendo when I was four. If I’m not mistaken, my family signed up for dial-up America Online when I was 12. I sent my first text message when I was 21 (I was an early adopter) and signed up for a Facebook account soon thereafter. For a while there I was a tech junkie. Nintendo got me pretty hooked on video games and I was a quasi-celebrity in high school thanks to my StarCraft skills. Many people have broken things thanks to my dominance in the EA Sports NHL series and no one, I mean no one, could beat me in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3. A couple months ago I picked up a video game controller for the first time in probably two years to show my friend’s son that I used to know how to play Tony Hawk. Judging by the look on that 11 year old boy’s face, I never forgot.

I am pretty certain that a large reason for why I am good at my job is because I genuinely understand these kids. I never really grew up. I tried “adulthood” for roughly four years after college, but it wasn’t for me. Life is too short and the world is too big. Each and every single time I reach a viewpoint or the base of a waterfall or come across a bear on the trail or finish constructing a retaining wall, I am reminded of this. In my opinion, the greatest thing an AMC Teen Trail Crew program participant can learn is exactly this.

NY/NJ Teen Trail Crew
Nathaniel BachNY/NJ Teen Trail Crew

There is more to life than the amount of followers you have on Instagram or whether or not you’ve captured a Dratini in Pokemon GO. Go outside, explore, and do yourself a favor and keep the technology in your pocket. You do not need to document all of your experiences. The best camera in the world is your own two eyes. Take the time to absorb it all and I promise that you’ll remember it. The amount of ‘likes’ you get does not define whether or not an experience is worthwhile. Only you can truly determine what is important because you are unique. Embrace it.

Put down the phone and get outside, all while giving back to the trails you care about! View upcoming trips with AMC’s Teen Trail Crew >>

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Jonathan Martin

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.