A Brief History of AMTP

AMTP History

1983 – Donna San Antonio and Susan Merrell graduate from UNH Master’s in Counseling Program and begin to plan a summer of backpacking trips with the name, Appalachian Summer Youth Project (ASYP)

1984 – Donna and Susan lead 5, 5-day backpacking trips in the White Mountains using a grant of $2,400 from the NH Charitable Fund, donated equipment from Eastern Mountain Sports, borrowed vans, and donations of food and time from dozens of local people

1985 – Holly Manoogian is hired and brings canoeing to the program; Donna and Holly lead 2, 12-day trips and several one day trips that involve backpacking, canoeing, and biking

1986 – The project hosts the first International Workcamp for Peace, based at Camp Calumet, with young adult volunteers from 5 countries joining ASYP participants for two weeks of service projects. The group paints the Effingham Town Hall and the Ossipee Community Action Office, and works with NH Foresters to work on reforestation in the White Mountains

1987 – Appalachian Mountain Teen Project (AMTP) is incorporated as a non-profit and receives a startup grant from NH Prevention Funds. Incorporators are: Mike Gass, UNH Professor and international leader in adventure education and therapy; Nancy Sheridan, Kingswood Middle School Special Education teacher, and others.

Also in 1987, AMTP expands to Belknap County. The summer trips included a 21-day trip, bicycling from Ossipee to the West Branch of the Penobscot River, paddling the West Branch, backpacking Baxter Park, summiting Mount Katahdin, meeting with Penobscot leaders to learn about Native American youth projects, and doing service projects along the way.

1988 – AMTP begins the Community Education Project with Nancy Hirshberg as project director and Stacy Kendall as project coordinator. Parent education classes and discussion groups begin and become a central part of AMTP’s programs

Also in 1988, AMTP takes 8 teens on a 30-day trip to Montana doing service projects with local people along the way, learning about Native American governance at the Crow Indian Reservation, backpacking in Glacier National Park and white water rafting. Melanie Lennox gives keynote address at National Conference of the Association for Experiential Education.

1989 – AMTP youth join Roxbury-based teen group, Free My People to learn about apartheid in South Africa. Don and Lois Boot donate property along the Merrimack River to AMTP and the vision for Riverland begins to take shape

Also in 1989 – Nancy Hirshberg is the mentor and coordinator for the Girls Empowerment Program involving 6 New Durham and 6 Ossipee 5th or 6th graders. They met weekly for group mentoring sessions and took weekend-long adventure, cross-cultural, and service learning trips every month.

1991 – Second International Workcamp for Peace brings young adults from 5 countries and local teens together to build the base camp at Riverland

1992 – AMTP hosts a workshop and is joined by African American youth from Portsmouth to learn about Martin Luther King’s six steps of non-violent social change

1992 – 30-day trip to Georgia includes backpacking in the Shenandoah Mountains, canoeing in Tennessee, volunteering at the Highlander Folk Center at their children’s summer camp, North Carolina coastal national park – wild horses, historical programs and service projects at the Cherokee Reservation and elsewhere. The highlight of our trip: a visit to the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change where we were welcomed by Coretta Scott King.

1993 – Summer work at Riverland continues with the addition of the porch and outhouse and various one-day and extended trips

1994 – Summer work at Riverland continues with the addition of the Ropes Course

The Riverland Education and Adventure Center opens offering community building and collective problem solving activities for children, teens, and adults

Also in 1994, Jeff Martel establishes Teen Mentoring Project – a “near-peer” mentoring model including one-to-one mentoring along with service and adventure trips. Pittsfield, Belmont, & Merrimack Valley Middle and High Schools are involved

1995 – 4 Harvard University consultants meet with board and staff for three days and lead the program toward a project design that deepens social and emotional development

1996 – Jeff Martel and Nancy Sheridan co-facilitate parent support groups called, Parent-Talk

1998 – AMTP hosts conference for youth on teen labor after conducting an action research project uncovering abuses of teens at work in several NH communities; they make connection to the exploitation of children and teens around the world. Teens lead a panel discussion on the issue for the public

2001 – A tragic suicide of a 15-year-old student is the impetus for the Carroll Country Collaborative for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Child Psychiatrist Ted Wingate does cross-role and cross-institution collaborative consultations to discuss children and adolescents with complex mental health issues that compromise social, emotional, and physical health.  This project continues for the next seven years, addressing the psychiatric needs of more than 100 children and youth and the professional development needs of dozens of physicians, educators, community and school counselors.

2003, 2004, 2005 – Internationally known speakers, William Pollack, author of Real Boys, James Garbarino, Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them, Janet Surrey from the Stone Center at Welleseley and Lisa Machoian of Harvard University speak about girls development; Jenny Boylan, author of, She’s Not There, talks about her life as a transgender woman…

AMTP co-leads adventure-based counseling activities and trips with young clients from the Genesis Counseling Center

2010 – New Executive Director is hired.

2013 –  New Executive Director is hired, and the Pathways to Leadership Project is resurrected. AMTP also helps co-found the Lakes Region Youth Services Symposium, and is invited to participate in the Belknap County Financial Stability Partnership as co-chairs of the Adolescent Working Group.