Educational Consultant Andrew Bryan integrates countryside treks with educational counseling to guide young adults
For more information:
Martin Johncox, Alexander and Associates Public Relations Agency, 208-658-9100
Andrew Bryan, 208-484-5835 www.trekEpic.org www.EmergingYoungAdults.com
Believe it or not, the ancient practice of young people going on an adventure to “find themselves” is alive and well. It’s just been updated as part of life coaching for young adults.
TrekEpic, which currently provides walking tours in England, Scotland and Wales, is the latest project of educational consultant and social entrepreneur Andrew Bryan.
“Everybody goes through a process several times in their life, where they have to find deep inner strength to get through a challenge - you hear about midlife crisis and it’s a similar transition from teenager to young adult,” said Kim Mlinarik, a therapist and international guide who has led several TrekEpic outings. “When they come out the other side of that challenge, they discover clarity and conviction they can use in their lives. We use the treks as that process.”
TrekEpic, which provided three, ten-day walking tours of England and Wales to fourteen young people in 2012, is the culmination of 24 years of Bryan’s work helping young adults navigate difficult pasts, learning challenges and behavioral issues to become productive adults.
“Going on an adventure into the unknown was a rite of passage for young people throughout time, teaching them independence, team work, problem solving, discipline and initiative,”
Treks are part of larger whole
Bryan has been involved in youth coaching and teaching since 1989. Since 1994, Bryan has been an educational consultant and planner, advising young people who need help with college selection, learning disabilities, therapeutic special needs school and program placement and the transition to independent adulthood. To fully implement his vision of educational consulting, he founded the Emerge College Success Program in 2005.
Emerge is geared toward people just out of high school who want to go to college, but might need some additional oversight, tutoring and counseling to stay the course or older students restarting their college careers. Typically, Emerge students live in Boise, Idaho and enroll Boise State University, the College of Western Idaho or other school. Emerge life coaching includes visits, ongoing sessions, communication with parents, internships, volunteer and work opportunities.
Typical reasons for using Bryan’s services include Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, family conflicts, lack of self esteem, depression, anxiety, drug/alcohol use, lack of motivation, immaturity or having a style of learning that doesn’t “fit the mold.”
“I see Emerge as a young adult transition process, not a program,” said Louise Slater, a South Carolina educational consultant who has referred clients to Bryan. “This process is highly individualized yet gives these young people enough structure to be successful, but without feeling they are in a ‘program’ “
Bryan co-founded TrekEpic in 2011 with Leslie Johnson and established it as a nonprofit, Epic Transitions. Bryan has become somewhat of a go-to person in the media for young adult issues. Bryan has been interviewed and quoted nationally on education related topics in The Seattle Times, The Lawlor Review, Post-Secondary LD Report, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The New York Times, CBS Marketplace, CBS Network Radio News, SmartMoney Magazine, KUOW's Weekday, College Bound Teen and, most recently, LATalkRadio with Dore Frances. He also serves on the Baker 5J School District Board in Baker, Oregon, and has served on many volunteer, local government or nonprofit boards.
Leslie Johnson, a former special education teacher who co-founded Trek Epic, said trekking serves a vital function. Johnson’s son used Bryan’s educational consulting services but she sensed there was something more a program could offer.
"There are a lot of really amazing parents out there whose children struggle or lose their sense of direction and parents often need to seek guidance in helping their children move forward," Johnson said. "Studies show that there is an increase in the number of young adults in the 18-24 age range who are unemployed and not going to school, who seem to lack direction.”
Johnson approached her family’s foundation, the Hurlbut-Johnson Charitable Trust. The trust, administered by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, makes grants to cover initial development costs (such as legal and insurance) and to pay staff and organizers. Fourteen trekkers participated in 2012, most of without having to pay program fees, although they still had to pay for their transportation and walking-around money.
TrekEpic makes a difference
While Bryan has been able to improve the lives of hundreds of young adults in his career, he knew there was a missing component for some clients – something that could lead them to a sudden, life-changing discoveries to move them forward – and hit upon walking treks as a catalyst.
Hugh Camp, 21, went on an English trek in August 2012. He was studying at the University of Virginia and withdrew because he wasn’t able to focus. An educational consultant referred him to Bryan, who enrolled Camp in Emerge and later recommended Camp for TrekEpic. Camp is now studying at Boise State University to become a mechanical engineer.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you see a mountain range off on the horizon and at the end of the day you’re at the bottom of the mountains,” Camp said. “Everyone is looking for some kind of self improvement at some level. A trek is a difficult accomplishment but it’s attainable at the same time.”
Typically, participants walk from town to town, sleeping in bunkhouses, hostels or bed and breakfasts and occasionally exploring the country towns during the day, putting in up to 12 miles a day in walking.
“The trek opened my eyes and made me feel a lot more excited for my future and what I can do,” said Ryan Hickey, 21, who went on a 100-mile walk in Wales in 2012. “The trek helped me see the world has so much to offer and I got a glimpse of it. It jump-started my life.”
Hickey is currently enrolled in a culinary arts program at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon to become a chef. But he wasn’t consciously thinking about that career before the trek.
“Before the trek, I wasn’t doing anything with my life – I didn’t have a job and I wasn’t going to school,” Hickey said. “I really wanted to get out in the world and experience some of it. I don’t know if I’ve ever been that exhausted, but when you cover that much distance you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”
Camp agreed, saying that being in such a different place, coupled with the exertion of the trek, definitely made an impression.
“It felt good to get out there and do something that was challenging and that I could manage,” Camp said. “All the walking puts you in a mental state where you’re teetering between exhaustion and euphoria and it contributes to group communication.”