Alabama Outdoors’ Scott McCrory recently had the opportunity to get outside with a great group of guys from Restoration Academy, located in Fairfield, Alabama. Restoration Academy believes that every child in the Birmingham area deserves an excellent, Christ-centered education. Their mission is to provide this opportunity through advancing the two greatest commandments in the life of every student: to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as ourselves. Members of the RA Outdoor Club spent a beautiful weekend on the Appalachian Trail in the Through sections of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Read about the weekend below.
Clint Cvacho, a teacher and organizer of the RA Outdoor Club, approached us almost two years ago with a vision of taking students from RA and introducing them to the AT, although, his vision was much grander than just an introduction. He envisioned having this select group commit to hike a portion of the AT in every state over the next three years. I was struck with the ambitiousness of his plan and overwhelmed with his enthusiasm. I committed to help, but thought that I had seen and heard many ideas like this in the past with very little follow-through.
That was not Clint. He followed up not long after and set a date for the first hike in November of 2014, named the RA Maine Event. We gathered supplies and equipment, and Clint began coordinating logistics. The group would hike to the Springer Mountain start of the AT and hike approximately 12.5 miles over two days. Keep in mind, none of these young men had any previous backpacking experience! My son and I joined the group for the first outing and can say firsthand that it was tough mileage – and cold! The group persevered, and we had a great trip traveling through the north Georgia Mountains.
Since the first hike, the group of determined young men, Clint, and other volunteers have been through sections of the AT in the Roan Highlands in Tennessee and North Carolina, Mount Rogers in Virginia (where the water in my bottle froze solid one night) and completed the Maryland Challenge hiking from the Pennsylvania boarder all the way across Maryland to West Virginia, for one of the most epic trips of the RA Maine Event, and likely the hardest backpacking trip of my life. Along the way, the group has been exposed to new places, learned new skills, and most importantly, learned a lot about themselves and what they are capable of accomplishing.
The group has one final trip to complete sections in New Hampshire and Maine, and the ultimate prize of Mount Katahdin. This final leg is a major undertaking for the group both in terms of logistics and physical and mental exertion. However, it is more than the final trip in a multi-year process, it represents the completion of a commitment by an engaged and motivated teacher who inspired his students to think outside the boundaries of their daily lives. In the process, they have been transformed and we have been inspired by the entire group.
If you would like more information about Restoration Academy or how you can support the Outdoor Club or the Maine Event, visit their website at restorationacademy.org or contact Clint Cvacho at email@example.com.