By: Ryan Prescott, Trip Leader Specialist / PULSE Fellow

Working with youth can be stressful. It can also be very rewarding.

Working with youth after-school programs every day has its ups and downs. What you take away each day depends on how much you put in. There are truly some amazing people out there and I would like to share two of the many stories that make working with kids truly incredible.

Sienna

On October 16 of last year I was at the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center. It is just one of many after-school programs that Venture Outdoors partners with. The outside activity for that day was a bike rodeo. For those of you who do not know what that is, it is essentially an obstacle course for people riding a bike. Some of the kids did and did not know how to ride bicycles. One of the kids, Sienna, said she had never ridden a bike without training wheels. So initially I held the bike and we moved around the obstacle course. The next time around she said that she wanted to try it without any help. I simply held the bike steady in the beginning and when she started pedaling, I let go. I was amazed! She did the entire course without even leaning too far to a side. You could see the excitement on her face that she did it all by herself without any help. She did not want to give up the bike after because she was so excited!

Xavier

On November 8 of last year I was at the Phillips Recreation Center. It is also one of the many after-school programs that Venture Outdoors partners with. The activity for the day was a stewardship hike. The goal of the hike was to split up into teams and see which group could collect the most trash from Phillips Park. The winning team of course would receive a mystery prize. So, you think how can I engage youth into having fun while picking up trash? Easy. Tell them the impact of picking up trash, make it a competition, and make a prize for the winners. Xavier was part of my team during the stewardship hike. Xavier also has been with Venture Outdoors for over four years. He actually led the charge when it came to getting everybody involved and excited about the hike. The second we got outside he started talking about a strategy to pick up the most trash. You could say he was my co-leader. If the kids got too far away from me, he would yell and they would all listen. He was constantly running around trying to make sure our team was victorious. To see him step up as a leader and take charge was awesome! I did not even have to say anything; he just assumed that role. This is what we do here at Venture Outdoors, create youth leaders that inspire others to enjoy the outdoors.