Updated: 05/25/2014 8:53 PM
Created: 05/25/2014 3:11 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Northlanders are enjoying the outdoors this Memorial Day weekend, but two students from Vermilion Community College are starting an expedition all the way around the Arrowhead to help underprivileged kids.
A hike through Jay Cooke State Park was just the beginning of the Tales of the Trail for John Plettner and Ricky Vennevold. Their 1,600 mile journey around the Arrowhead is more than either have tried before.
“The longest trip I've done is 18 days, so 123 is a little bit of a stretch, but I've always wanted to spend a summer outside camping,” Vennevold said.
The two study outdoor education at Vermilion Community College, and they want their trek to set an example for kids in the region.
“I want the kids to be able to see what we're doing and realize it's not impossible to do it. It doesn't have to be something this large of a scale. It can be as simple as going on a fishing trip, going camping or going for a little day hike," Plettner said.
The duo will hike, bike and canoe through the wilderness all summer. They hope the expedition will garner donations so they can send Northland kids to a week of summer camp with the YMCA.
“So every penny goes to sending an underprivileged child from the Arrowhead region to Camp Miller,” Vennevold said. “It's their first time away from home, and when this happens it's their first time on their own. Their parents aren't there, their grandparents aren't there, no family and so they have to gain their independence.”
The students will keep followers updated with written and video tales of the trail in exchange for donations to help the kids. They said sharing the outdoor experience is how kids can learn and develop.
“The amount of storytelling we have in our lives is something we fail to realize sometimes, and we don't really understand the power of it,” Vennevold said.
“So we want to try and harness that, but at the same time we want to focus a lot on education and taking these skills and being able to relay that to kids to be able to go out and experience the same things we're able to,” Plettner said.
The two will circle back to Jay Cooke by September carrying all the support they can for the YMCA.
You can find their planned route and make donations on the Tales of the Trail website. The students said it costs just over $400 to send a child to Camp Miller on Sturgeon Lake.
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