The chirping birds of Spring are a welcomed recess bell to the ears of restless outdoor enthusiasts cooped up over PA’s cold months. This year, Keystone Trails Association (KTA) is excited to see increased interest from new hikers of all ages heading out into nature’s playground.
KTA has been partnering with a local downtown after-school group in Cumberland County to introduce elementary and middle-school-age youth to hiking and camping. Brook Lenker, KTA executive director, hosted learning sessions to teach the students about hiking gear and safety.
After the group received backpacks and hiking poles through KTA’s mini-grant program, Lenker guided the crew on White Rocks Trail in Boiling Springs so the students could practice their new outdoor knowledge. For some of the students, this was their first time on a "real" hike, making being part of this experience a true honor for KTA.
The Harrisburg Young Professionals (HYP) invited KTA to join them for their "After Work Hike" series at Detweiler Park, an opportunity for members to network while enjoying nature.
Though everyone benefits from outdoor recreation, it may be increasingly important for groups like HYP to be encouraging their members to take intentional rest breaks. A recent study by Bain & Company revealed that 61% of Millennial and Gen-Z workers are stressed, overwhelmed, and in danger of burnout at work, compared to 40% of those aged 35 and above.
Establishing a healthy form of self-care that’s sustainable for life, like hiking, is a perfect way to reduce stress and be a source of rejuvenation. KTA is grateful for the opportunity to connect with this younger generation and looks forward to attending more of their events in an effort to support their hiking journeys and well-being.
In response to hikers looking for ways to add variety to their excursions, KTA offered a Backpacking 101 course in March at Wildwood Park’s Nature Center in Harrisburg, PA that covered practical topics like clothing and footwear, gear, food preparation, campsite selection, and more.
This group of new backpackers put their skills to the test this Spring during an overnight trip guided by KTA hiker leader, Jim Foster, who was one of three instructors during the Backpacking 101 course and has backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail.
As more people begin hiking every year, it is important to KTA that programs and resources are available to support their interests. KTA hosts guided hikes to introduce folks to various types of trails, holds educational workshops like Wilderness First Aid, provides maps and hiking guides, and contributes to the maintenance of PA’s trails through its volunteer-based Trail Care Program to ensure an enjoyable and safe hiking experience. #
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Keystone Trails Association