More than anything, the primary impact from the Outdoor Experience is its role as the engagement mechanism to facilitate healthy relationships between participating youth and positive adult mentors. Our program works because it allows youth to break out of negative cycles and patterns in their life.
How our Programs work:
We operate single sex outings that have a maximum of 5 mentees and 5 mentors with the support of a trained staff member. Depending on the program partner we may incorporate volunteers from our partner program. All transportation, food, equipment, clothing is provided at no cost for all our youth and adult mentors. Mentors have the option to rent specific clothing for a small fee, if the need arises.
- Our structured activity fosters mentoring relationships both one v. one and within the group. The presence of peers is a proven incentive for youth to participate as well as helps ease the growth of each specific mentoring relationship. Furthermore, group identity allows for further exploration into our curriculum of critical life skills (i.e. communication, responsibility, accountability, problem solving, teamwork, and leadership). We believe that this format has the propensity for maximum impact on our youth as well as our mentors.
- We provide a safe place to practice skills. Youth are often referred to mentor programming because of social and emotional vulnerability (they are isolated, shy, and are in need of emotional regulation). By using a specific outdoor activity presents the opportunity to explore and develop skills. Most importantly, our youth gain self-esteem, self-efficacy, and confidence.
- “Real-Time” coaching. During our outings the mentor and staff are able to observe the strengths and weaknesses of the youth involved. In addition, we facilitate the opportunity for feedback and support (briefing/debriefing) and this helps mentors handle tough situations and questions in a safe and open-minded environment. We believe the majority of “real impact” moments happen in the ‘in between’ time of structured activity.
- Developing a sense of competence. Studies show that these positive experiences have the capacity to improve academics, relational development, self-regulation, and self-understanding. Working as part of group helps in building trust and youth have multiple relationships to learn and develop. Moreover, these group and individual mentoring experiences allow youth to be acknowledged for achievement (youth agency). Our Seven Core Values