Using Brandywine as tool to instruct, connect

Coatesville Youth Initiative seeking applicants for popular, annual Trek

Participants in the 2012 ‘Brandywine Trek’ enjoy a stint of canoeing during last year’s odyssey.

Participants in the 2012 ‘Brandywine Trek’ enjoy a stint of canoeing during last year’s odyssey.

A life-changing odyssey that typically forges lifelong friendships awaits participants in this year’s Brandywine Trek.

Sponsored by the Coatesville Youth Initiative, under the auspices of the Brandywine Health Foundation, the program is currently seeking applicants. Participants must be in grades 9 through12 for the 2013-2014 school year in the Coatesville, Kennett or Octorara school districts with an interest in an exciting weeklong summer camping excursion and environmental learning opportunity.

The Brandywine “Trekkers” will camp and travel, by foot, bicycle and canoe, from the Brandywine River’s headwaters near Honey Brook, along its path into Downingtown. Throughout the journey, they will learn about the science, culture, history and economics of the Brandywine River Valley, an essential source of drinking water.

“The Trek will provide an opportunity for youth from the Octorara area to connect with their peers across Chester County, develop leadership skills, and learn critical lessons of ecological and watershed conservation.  The opportunity is unprecedented in the region and will have a lasting impact in the lives of the youth participants,” said Adam Straubel, development director at the Parkesburg Point, a youth outreach organization.

Trekkers are provided with cameras and journals to record their experiences, which will become a post-trek public exhibit. Trekkers will, in turn, become the spokespeople for the watershed, as they educate the public about the critical importance of the river and the need to protect it from abuse. They will also learn about and educate others on the vital connections between the cities of Coatesville, Kennett, Parkesburg and their downstream neighbors.

“I am excited to take the students on the Brandywine Trek, as it will offer them the opportunity to have an experience outside their usual environment, to learn more about themselves, teens from their community and other communities, as well as learn more about the environment, and the impact they have on the environment,” said David Gregory, director of The Garage Community and Youth Center in Kennett Square.

The Trek begins with a two-night overnight orientation Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19 and operates Monday, June 17 through Friday, June 21.  Applications are available online at  The deadline to apply is April 15.  Additional information is available at, or contact Jarvis Berry, community mobilizer of the Coatesville Youth Initiative at or 610-380-9080, ext. 105.

 The Brandywine Health Foundation’s priorities center on health equity, youth development, and building a safe and economically viable Coatesville community.  The Coatesville Youth Initiative fosters collaboration among community residents, youth, area businesses, nonprofit and county agencies, youth-serving organizations, the Coatesville Area School District and other educational entities to enhance the knowledge and skills of our youth as a means to build strong character so they may reach their fullest potential.

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