PORTLAND —  A Brunswick-based bicycle and hiking adventure firm continues to climb.

Apogee Adventures on Maine Street in Brunswick recently marked its 10th year of consecutive growth and, in October, won a national award from the Adventure Cycling Association.

The company leads guided bike and hiking tours – like summer camps on wheels – for kids ages 12 to 18.

When New Jersey native Kevin Cashman started the company in 2001, Apogee Adventures offered just two guided trips: one through Cape Cod and the Islands and another across New England.

Next summer – nearly all trips happen during warm months – the company plans to offer 33 or 34 biking and hiking trips, including a two-week ride from Freeport to Quebec City, a trip across Montana, a community service trip to Puerto Rico and a more than six-week cross-country ride from Charleston, S.C., to San Diego. Apogee also has a bike tour through Italy.

Cashman, 38, said the trips, which are usually limited to about 12 kids and range in cost from around $2,300 to nearly $5,600, include community service work. Kids help maintain hiking and biking trails, paint buildings along their routes and volunteer at food pantries and nursing homes, for instance.
Cashman said the trips teach life skills.

“Going from point A to point B lends itself well to what we do, (which is) giving kids achievable goals and helping kids build friends,” he said. “We are giving kids a shot of confidence, no matter who they are. (We help them) feel like they found a niche, and we give them a base to jump to for the next school year.”

The company employs about 30 staff during the summer, including counselors and “trip leaders,” whom Cashman and director Chad Olcott – the only full-time employees – recruit from liberal arts colleges like Bowdoin, Trinity and Franklin and Marshall colleges.

On Oct. 18, Missoula, Mont.-based Adventure Cycling Association named Cashman and Apogee Adventures winner of the group’s 2011 Pacesetter Bicycle Travel Award, which recognizes organizations or individuals that promote bicycle travel.

A news release from the nonprofit bicycle travel organization said Apogee was chosen because the company’s trips teach kids hard work, persistence, dedication and the importance of community service.

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:
[email protected]