Eleven Maine high schools will receive grants from Teens to Trails (commonly known as T3) to support student outing clubs, according to a March 1 press release.

The grants were awarded to: Biddeford High School, Cony High School in Augusta, Deer Isle-Stonington High School, Deering High School in Portland, Dirigo High School in Dixfield, Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, Portland High School, South Portland High School, The New School in Kennebunk, and Thornton Academy in Saco.

These schools, four of which are starting up new outing club programs, were awarded funds totaling almost $5,000 from the nonprofit organization.

“High school Outing Clubs are the most effective way we have found for engaging teens in their natural world, with the potential to make fun safe outdoor experiences accessible to every Maine student,” said Teens to Trails founder Carol Leone in a prepared statement.

Since the inception of the Grants-to-Clubs Program, T3 has awarded over 50 grants in support of Maine high school Outing Club programs thanks to the support of Maine businesses and foundations as well as many personal donations.

This year’s grants were made possible by ongoing support from L.L. Bean and a grant from The Old Bug Light Charitable Foundation.

T3 grants help clubs with transportation costs and equipment, two big hurdles that often prevent schools from establishing outing clubs and giving teens an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

“It is our goal to establish an Outing Club in every one of Maine’s high schools,” said Leone. “The Grants-to-Clubs program helps Outing Clubs get started and stay active.”

Statements from grant recipients were included in the press release:

“We believe that an outdoor experience is an excellent way of developing mind, body, and character of students at our school,” wrote Deering High School Principal Ira Waltz. “We look forward to seeing students continue to challenge themselves and to grow through exposure to the outdoors.”

“The Outing Club is an opportunity for students to be involved with pro-social fun activities, have adult mentors, develop positive relationships, learn leadership skills, develop skills in lifelong sports and make a difference in their community. It’s a win-win-win-win-win-win,” said Biddeford High School Principal Britton Wolfe. Biddeford is one of the four high schools that are starting an outing club this year.

“Gear purchased [with grant funds] can be used for years to come to help the club maintain a solid presence in the school in the future,” said Alex Mitchell, who oversees the Thornton Academy Outing Club.

Teens to Trails is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, all-volunteer organization devoted to engaging Maine teens in the outdoors. For information, visit www.teenstotrails.org.

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...