To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before…

Spencer Palmer joined the Treks team at Cherokee Creek Boys School in September 2012 having just finished a summer stint as an expedition leader for Deer Hill Expeditions in the Four Corners area of Colorado. While in Colorado, Spencer led extended backpacking and rafting trips with adolescent clients. He’s a 2012 graduate of Toccoa Falls College, with a major in Outdoor Leadership and Education.

Spencer Palmer - CCBS Trek Manager

Spencer Palmer - CCBS Treks Manager

Spencer’s involvement in the outdoors has been lifelong. He was active in Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He was an avid hunter and fisherman growing up in the Toccoa area with his two brothers. At the local Y Camp near Talullah Gorge, Spencer was assistant adventure director, working with campers on outdoor trips and rope course activities.

In 2008, Spencer “thru hiked” the Appalachian Trail, taking just under five months to traverse the mountains from Georgia to Maine. “Thru hikers” usually adopt a nickname for notes and sign-ins along the trail. Spencer’s moniker was “One Flop”. Since he is a stickler for details (something that continues to shine through in his work at Cherokee Creek), he walked every foot of the trail and made sure that every side trip began and ended at the same spot on the “AT”.

Spencer also brings a love of wild water to complement his overall love of the wilderness. He’s an experienced kayaker, paddling Class IV water all over the Southeast. He shares his organizational talents with the paddling community by helping to organize festivals on the Tallulah River in Georgia and the Ocoee River in Tennessee.

We are blessed that Spencer is able to bring all of these talents and passions to bear on the whitewater canoeing program at Cherokee Creek.

As our new Treks Program Manager, Spencer hopes to create new outdoor activities for the boys, continue to maintain our enviable safety record (like all our Trek staff, Spencer is a certified Wilderness First Responder), and further integrate our PATH work into the outdoor curriculum. Right off the bat, he’s instituting new methods of staff training and development so that everyone involved with the Trek program is on a continuous path of self-improvement.

Everyone at Cherokee Creek is looking forward to working with Spencer. He brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for the outdoors to our students.

Thanks for being on our team, Spencer!

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Plan Q Ain’t So Bad

Oconee State Park is one of my sacred spaces. There is nothing fancy about it, in fact, quite the contrary. It is plain and purposeful with living history at every bend in the trail. Perhaps it is the history that feels like a warm blanket and serves as a reminder that this special place has seen generations of families pass through its gates.

A few Saturdays ago I walked into the meeting room at Oconee to prep our most recent Family Trek. I took a moment to inhale the scent of wood smoke, antiques and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I thought about the Family Trek 2 years ago that challenged every fiber of my Type A being over the course of 4 days, taking my “Plan A” on a journey to “Plan Q.” In November 2009, our Family Trek was intersected with the remnants of Hurricane Ida and the Swine Flu. The rain came down unabated, the river rose to flood stages and a few folks found themselves isolated in their 80 year old cabins sans internet, TV or phone connection to the outside world.

Plan A was quickly discarded for Plan B, and so on, as our team of staff adapted to the changes in weather and circumstances. Plans B through G were out too and continued problem solving down the alphabet until we arrived at a very creative Plan Q!

Personally, few experiences have offered more growth in such a limited amount of time. The lesson? “Be open to outcome,” the same lesson we study every fall in our Learning Community at Cherokee Creek. Learning how to let go of the things you cannot control and becoming more flexible, trusting and resilient. Our Family Trek is designed to offer opportunities for these lessons to be experienced.

I can’t deny that it feels great to end on Plan A, because it feels awesome! There is an incredible sense of power when it all comes together exactly the way you envisioned it. However, being faced with adversity and meeting it with resilience is different – it is empowerment. And it is through resilience and empowerment (and quite a bit of flexibility) that we learn about equanimity and balance to grow the strong roots that see us through the storms.

It is my most sincere hope that each of our participating families discover the real and true depth of their resilience, their flexibility and feel empowered as they discover the new plan.

I look forward to seeing some of you in May! Until then, enjoy the slideshow below of the last Family Trek at the beginning of this month:


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Ripples in the Water

May 2011 FT Group

Twice a year at Cherokee Creek Boys School, about 10 families get together for a very different experience. They come together for 4 days of adventure, fellowship, family time, peace, fun…and a little bit of chocolate mixed with marshmallow mixed with graham cracker.

The outomes of the experience are like ripples on the water. They pulse outward extending far beyond 4 days of activities. Our May Family Trek just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago and a couple of unexpected ripples have made their way back to us. One of our dads, Jack, sent a link to his blog post inspired by the event (provided below).  Jack gives a wonderful perspective as a parent navigating through the experience of parenting a son at a therapeutic boarding school. And Oconee State Park, where the event is based, sent a thank you note for food donated at the end of the trip. The note was signed by all of the members of the prison work crew the food helped to feed in the days following the Family Trek.

You can see from the video below that, most importantly, our Trek family had a great experience filled with Love, Courage, Truth and Wisdom.

Stay-at-Home Dad: Kudzu

Slideshow of highlights:


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