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Middle School Hiking Club

In a previous post I talked about the Saunters hiking program that is offered through the Lodi Schools for youth in grades 3-5. I’m pleased to report that the school system is offering another hiking program, this one for older youth.

The Ice Age Trail Hiking Club — also known as the Trail Trekkers — began in October of this year and is organized by teacher Paula Tonn. It is open to student in grades 6-8 as well as the adults in their lives. The club hikes once a week on Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30. Hikes are mostly on segments in the Ice Age Trail in Lodi but may also extend to nearby communities. Members are encouraged to arrange for their own transportation but Ms Tonn will help members get a ride if needed.

People join the hiking club by filling out the registration form on the club’s website: In addition, registrants are required to watch a COVID safety video that is on the website and fill out the video viewing form. Ms Tonn then gets in touch to confirm the registration. Once a person is signed up they are in the club for the entire year, even if they can’t make the hike every week.

The website lists the details about each weekly hike and Ms Tonn sends members an email on Sunday night to let them know where the hike will be. Members of the club fill out an RSVP and symptom screener form if they plan to hike that week and are asked not to hike if they have any symptoms. Hikers (youth and adults) must bring a mask to wear when there is close contact, though they don’t need to wear them when they’re six feet apart on the Trail.

The hiking club is funded through the school as well as financial support from the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Lodi Valley Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Plans include hiking once a week through the first week of June 2021. A summer school option is being discussed.

As of December 7 there were 35 people signed up for the Ice Age Trail Hiking Club. The club has been on four hikes, with over 20 youth participating each time. As an added incentive, participants can earn a “Trekkie” patch for completing segments.

In talking about the club,  Ms Tonn had this to say: “It has truly been a bright spot in an otherwise dark time.” Bravo to the Lodi Schools and Ms Tonn, as well as the financial supporters, for making this outdoor opportunity available to our youth. There is so much to be learned in the outdoors, in addition to the physical and mental benefits of hiking…Along the Ice Age Trail.

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