Next week, 14 youth who participate in the Collaborative Learning After School Program of Family & Children’s Place will spend four days and three nights taking part in a Life Adventure Center camp experience near Versailles.
Three staff – Jo Cruz, Bobby Cortes and Jasmine Johnson, of the Family & School Services program – will join the youth from Meyzeek Middle School. The Life Adventure Center is covering expenses for the students’ and staff experience.
“This is an incredible opportunity for these students,” said Cruz, director of the Family & Children’s Place program. “Meyzeek is a magnet school that draws outside students to its excellent math, science and technology programs, but it’s also a neighborhood school that has a significant population of underserved and often disenfranchised young people who live in poverty in the Smoketown and Shelby Park communities.”
More than 52 percent of students receive free or reduced price lunch at Meyzeek, and the FBI considers the area as the 14th most dangerous community in the United States. Cruz adds, “The activities the students will get to experience, along with the lessons they learn in their CLASP programming, will build personal and social confidence, skills and values that will help propel them to success in their education and future careers.”
The Life Adventure Center offers programs that transform lives by enhancing growth, improving communication and building resiliency for individuals and groups, especially underserved and under-resourced youth through professionally supervised outdoor group challenges and shared reflection opportunities.
The center is based in the 370-acre Buckley Wildlife Refuge in Woodford and Franklin counties, and offers activities that include high and low ropes, backpacking, canoeing, equestrian and environmental experiences.
“The program is about making choices,” Cruz says. “Healthy choices, much like they make in their CLASP sessions, that are best suited for them individually and recognizing that success isn’t based on the accomplishment, but on the willingness to try, to reach beyond their comfort zone.”
Each day at the center will provide students and staff opportunities to connect, to grow and build their confidence and skills. For example, on Day One, they will play a game of Capture the Flag, tackle a water obstacle course and a low ropes course, as well as share some mindfulness time.
On Day Two, there is an equine opportunity, fun on a giant swing, an adventure hike, and mindfulness time. Day Three includes canoeing, low and high ropes, a Leap of Faith, and a camp naming ceremony. The final day features equine time and a closing ceremony.
“These experiences will affect these students’ lives,” said Cruz. “It will affect their personal and social confidence, their relationship skills, their teambuilding – it will be reflected in their grades, in their school attendance and in their eventual success in school and life.
“It’s a true enrichment opportunity and experience for them (the students) and us (staff),” she said.