Into the Woods: An Outdoors Mentoring Program Helps Urban Youth Find Their Confidence-And Adult Volunteers Their Resolve

By Bullington, Paula | Parks & Recreation, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Into the Woods: An Outdoors Mentoring Program Helps Urban Youth Find Their Confidence-And Adult Volunteers Their Resolve


Bullington, Paula, Parks & Recreation


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"At first I didn't want to come; now I don't want to leave."

This simple yet profound quote from one young participant in the Denver-based Big City Mountaineers program shows the breadth of experience--from troubled urban teen to accomplished outdoorsman--that is possible in the span of one week.

Big City Mountaineers. a nonprofit that teams adult volunteers one on-one with kids front less-than-hospitable urban backgrounds. is committed to providing a new start--in terms of greater confidence. self-awareness and problem-solving skills--for its young participants.

It was into this mix that I found myself recently, one of a group of 10 who had come together for a week in the Colorado wilderness. Our tribe, a mix of former Outward Bound instructors, volunteers and teens--Team Saucey, as we came to call ourselves--began as a group of strangers but quickly bonded as we hit the trail.

Big City Mountaineers recruits teens from youth organizations that serve low-income urban youngsters. Among those chosen n is considered a privilege to participate, and each kid falls taro the category of the three D's: disadvantaged, deserving, and desiring.

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In a week fraught with challenges, the members of Team Saucey saw even more opportunities. And while a forgotten tent and freak, flash thunderstorm

may have gotten us off on the wrong foot, we were fortunate enough to have campsites on two beautiful lakes each night we were out: Savage Lake and Lake Carter, which even allowed us some fishing in its pristine waters. …

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