How our team is impacting young lives around the city.
By: Meg Taylor, Youth Program Intern
Here at Venture Outdoors, we are known around the city of Pittsburgh as the people that get you outdoors. Whether we take you kayaking along the Allegheny River downtown, on a morning hike in Schenley Park, or cross country skiing at Kooser State Park, you’ll always find us doing something fun outdoors. In addition to the public programs you can find on our website Activities Calendar, we have also found a way to work outdoors with youth in our local communities.
During the 2016-2017 school year, we have led programs with approximately 230 students throughout greater Pittsburgh. In doing so, we partnered with 11 school or after-school programs to provide an enriching outdoor experience. We staff every outing with two to three Trip Leader Specialists who participate in the outings during school or after school hours. I am currently a University of Pittsburgh senior, studying Applied Developmental Psychology, serving as a Youth Program Coordinator Intern for the organization. This position has allowed me to work with young students all over the city of Pittsburgh. I have been an intern with Venture Outdoors since August 2016 and I can say with confidence that every day has brought me a unique and fulfilling experience.
Being able to participate in the outings has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. Though I attend a wide variety of youth outings, the children always remember me as I walk in with my bright orange Venture Outdoors t-shirt. In the beginning of the school year, the children had little experience with outdoor recreation. In fact, our staff distributed surveys the first day to get a feel for the children’s experiences. The results showed that students did not have much of an opportunity to experience the outdoors; only 50% of kids surveyed said they highly agree with the statement “It is easy for me to do outdoor activities in my neighborhood”. Now that we are six months into this school year’s program, I have watched these children become excited to learn and eager to participate in our educational outdoor programs. Our outings include adventures kayaking on the Allegheny River, biking, geocaching, snowshoeing, and so much more. In addition, our Trip Leader Specialists, myself included, have created strong bonds with the children in our programs.
Not only do we use our youth programs as a way to encourage exercise and outdoor activities, but also as a platform to be a role model. Being able to have a productive conversation with children about their future goals and aspirations, is one of my favorite parts about the job.