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Orange Explorers Program a Success
The Community Action Youth Programs held a successful 2-week pilot summer program full of fun, hands-on activities aimed at leadership development for youth age 10-13 at Pine Crest Apartments.
(from the Athol Daily News)
The Community Action Youth Programs held a successful 2-week pilot summer program full of fun, hands-on activities aimed at leadership development for youth age 10-13 at Pine Crest Apartments. The community room was “a perfect space from which to launch our daily activities,” said Jessie Delia, Youth Programs lead coordinator for the Orange Explorers summer session program. On the Pine Crest lawn, team building cooperative activities were initiated. Youth engaged in blind folded trust walks through obstacle courses or built human pyramids. At other times participants would make ice cream or swim in the Pine Crest pool.
The focus of many of the activities was outdoor nature exploration. Children went on day hikes at the local state parks. There they built shelters in the woods, learned basic orienteering, and played “biotic/abiotic” relay races. “Mucking in the swamps and finding leeches, salamanders, newts, and pollywogs was fun and yucky,” said participant Alyssa Gaudet. Most outings included a cool-down swim at Laurel Lake.
A day was spent visiting the Seeds of Solidarity farm with owner Deb Habib. She led youth through her fields of snow peas and bid them to “pick and eat.” She fielded many questions and planted within each of them seeds of knowledge about living in harmony with nature. After touring the farm and learning about the green self sustaining agriculture that is practiced there, youth picked basil and garlic and made fresh pesto. “Picking the garlic was one of the session's high points,” said participant Brandon Dudley.
For many, another highlight of the summer session was the day spent canoeing on the Millers River. “I was really afraid, but being out on the water with you guys made it fun.” participant William Mason said. His mother was very pleased and proud of her son. Charity Mason said she originally was not going to let her son go canoeing. She said, “You've run a wonderful program. Billy came home every day with lots of great stories. Thank you!”
The success of the program was due in part to the support from community members such as Lyndale Spencer, the complex manager at the Pine Crest apartments, who was described as a welcoming and fully engaged host. “She was very encouraging and supported our program,” said Glen Franklin, Youth Programs summer session co-coordinator. “Her knowledge of the Orange community and the youth culture at Pine Crest was a great help for our planning and recruiting. We all greatly appreciated the pizza lunch she provided for us on our last day. What a gracious host!”
“This program was excellent. This summer session was really full. … (They) had lots of different activities and trips. They even had alternative rain plans. Great job!” said Franklin.
“Can you do this again next year? ” asked Lyndale Spencer. Community Action Youth Programs is part of Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire and North Quabbin Regions. It inspires young people to build communities in partnership with guiding adults. Youth Programs currently provides free youth development programming for ages 10-21, specializing in leadership development, community service, employment readiness, and diversity support (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and ethnicity). For more information, www.communityaction.us/youth or contact Lev Ben-Ezra, program manager at 413.457.1792.