by Hannah White, Trip Leader Specialist
It’s a crisp fall day in Allentown as I hike the big hill to Grandview Park with students from the Brashear Association. We haven’t told them yet what our activity will be, but everyone is enjoying the hike and being outside. Once we are at the park, Trip Leader Ashley tells the students that we will be doing a Halloween-themed geocaching course using GPS units to find hidden caches with fun Halloween facts that we have placed all around the park.
We start with some quick instruction on how to use the GPS units. Then the students begin their search for the cache boxes and hidden clues. It is great to see them running around, burning off some energy after being in school all day and enjoying this green space in their own neighborhood. I love doing this activity with young kids because it is amazing to see how quickly they learn to use the GPS unit and to watch them work as teams.
This story is of one outing that is part of a larger Venture Outdoors project called the Youth Outdoor Recreation Program or YORP. The Brashear kids are one of our ten youth groups to participate in this program.
On a typical YORP outing Venture Outdoors Trip Leaders go to afterschool centers and take groups of students on hikes in their neighborhoods to do fun activities that also incorporate a lesson about the outdoors. Outing activities include mini shelter building, clean-up hikes, nature art, bike rodeo, or compass skills. Venture Outdoors supplies all the necessary gear and equipment to successfully run the outing.
Brashear is just one of our ten partner locations participating in the Youth Outdoor Recreation Program during this 2016-2017 school year. In order to build relationships, Trip Leaders visit the same groups every other week throughout the entire year. YORP is partially funded by grants from The Grable Foundation and the Department of Environmental Protection so this program is provided at no cost to the afterschool centers or schools that we serve. Our partners are:
- A Giving Heart, Allentown
- All of Us Care, Sharpsburg
- Brashear Association, Allentown
- Center That Cares: Wesley Center, Hill District
- Jeron X. Grayson Community Center, Hill District
- Manchester Academic Charter School, Northside
- Mt. Ararat Community Activity Center, East Liberty
- Philips Recreation Center, Carrick
- Providence Connections, Brighton Heights
- South Hills Interfaith Movement, South Hills
My favorite part of working for Venture Outdoors is having the opportunity to get kids outside. The first couple months of YORP have been so much fun and I am looking forward to finding more ways to enjoy the outdoors with these amazing kids throughout the rest of this school year.