You walk up steep trails surrounded by green leaves and trees of all sizes. You can see other people in front of you walking the same path and some going the other way. Trails with twists and turns of different heights. Every time you do the same trail you get farther toward your goal. This is what Rise & Shine scholars see when they hike with volunteers.
This Summer Rise & Shine Neighbors in Ministry is giving scholars the opportunity to go on hikes on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Bracken Mountain Reserve, in Brevard. This program is led by John Wiseman, 66 , and Kim Coram, 56. The goal is for the students to stay connected to nature and encourage them to hike more during the school year.
“We both believe nature is a healing place and we want to share that with as many kids as possible,” Wiseman said. “We’re just trying to get them to experience the outdoors.”
The distance some scholars have hiked has increased each week, and in the third week of the program four Level 3 scholars hiked a 6-mile loop with 900 feet of climbing.
“Their fitness is incredible,” Coram said.
Volunteers from groups such as Conserving Carolina and Southeastern Off-road Bicycle Association (SORBA) hike with the students. They help the student learn new things along the way such as photography and identifying different kinds of birds and plants. The volunteers go with the scholars at the scholars’ pace. The volunteers are a big help with the hikes.
Coram and Wiseman are avid mountain bikers and hikers who once owned a bike shop in Parkersburg, W. Va. An outdoor recreation program that Coram attended in high school “changed my life,” she said. She wants to share the experience that she had with other children.
To make this happen, the couple organized a bike camp in DuPont State Recreational Forest last summer. In the fall they hope to form a Rise & Shine hiking club.
“The goal is to create an opportunity so kids who really want to do this, can do it,” Coram said.