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I'm very interested in learning about anyone who works with young people from under resourced, urban communities.  I run a small non-profit in Philadelphia which works exclusively with this population.  I have found a few organizations with some similarities to ours but would love to be able to engage with more organizations that work exclusively or largely with this population.  Urban Blazers is less about developing experts and more about developing interest and curiousity  www.urbanblazers.org

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Eric,

Given that Wichita isn't what a lot of folks might call "urban" we do deal with many of the same problems getting kids outdoors.

Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors works with the outdoor/conservation group community to recruit mentors who will spend time with kids, taking them hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, canoeing, boating...whatever it is the mentors enjoy doing outdoors, we want them to take along a kid and give them the opportunity to experience that as well.

We partner with youth mentoring organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, letting them take care of the background checks and manage the mentoring match (they've been doing this for over 100 years and they have plenty of kids on their waiting list that need mentors). We recruit the mentor and working with the conservation groups, provide some outdoor activities that the matches can participate in together. Our hope and goal is that the mentors will spend 2-3 times/month taking the youngster with them on outdoor activities.

In addition to partnering with the conservation organizations (like Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Delta Waterfowl, National Wild Turkey Federation), we also look to involve the state fish and game agency. They are very motivated to get more kids outdoors and have a wealth of resources at their disposal to help with that effort.

You can find out more about our organization at http://www.outdoormentors.org. Please feel free to give me a call should you have any questions.

Mike Christensen
Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors, Inc.
Mike, many thanks for responding to Eric's request. I am very glad to know about your organization. Mentoring vulnerable kids is so important, especially getting them to get out in nature which probably isn't the "coolest" thing on their activity list. You are doing very important work and I hope Eric can take advantage of your services.

Eric, you might also check our Coalition map on the C&NN home page and next to this post. It locates existing organizations that are active in the movement in your geographic area. They might also have some suggestions. Thanks to you both for your posts. John

I'm in the process of partnering my group, the Calgary Outdoor Recreation Association (CORA), with Crossing The Divide. Crossing The Divide takes at-risk youth from Calgary and Edmonton into the Rocky Mountains for week long backpacking trips. CORA may be able to help them provide weekend backpacking trips or day trips, and expand into winter activities such as snowshoeing.

The kids in under resourced urban communities in Calgary and Edmonton probably have different issues to deal with than in Phillie, but I'd bet they have more in common than they have differences.

Hello Eric,

Just wanted to let you know that this issue is treated in our new film MOTHER NATURE'S CHILD: GROWING OUTDOORS IN THE MEDIA AGE. Brother Yusuf Burgess from Albany, NY demonstrates his nature mentoring work with inner city youth and his students talk about how they feel about it. Also, the film features the mentoring work of the Holistic Life Foundation in Baltimore, MD. These are all great people who are doing amazing work.

 I have found that the place-based approach is highly affective when working with children of this type of population. Teaching concepts through local examples. It helps students feel connected, proud of their prior knowledge and grounds the information. Students who are in a "fight or flight" mode often can't see past their own horizon, but when you put things in a context they can relate to, they are able to bridge the gap and realize it in a more global awareness.

 

Hi all- Thanks for your repsonses and my apologizes from disappearing from the chat I started.  I think I figured out how to keep this active on my own screen!

The examples are good.  In my research I've found a number of models for engaging youth from Urban environments in the outdoors.  Most seem to focus on one time experiences either day long field trips or longer one time programs like those with the, "CORA" program and another in Denver.  Our approach is closer to the one Harmony mentioned that meets the kids in their neighborhoods first.  We do a lot of team building programs to get to know the kids in their space first before taking them out.   Urban Blazers aim is to work with kids over the course of years on a monthly or weekly basis.  Spreading the interactions between meeting them in their communities and a mix of outings that are both accessible to where they live by short walks, bike or public transportation and those that are further outside the city.  

 

We like to think of their being certain activities that, even for people with resources, are more once a year activities like skiing, whitewater rafting and others like hiking that need to be accessible.  Luckily, Philadelphia has a large park system and their are a number of hiking trails and creeks to explore that are a bus token away.  

 

Camilla- I will check out the film.  I've looked into Brother Yusuf's work and it is very impressive.  There are a few aspects that I have trouble getting past, from a liability perspective my Board and insurance carrier would not be so flexible(and compared to other organizations I have spoke with like Outward Bound, our insurance carrier and board are extremely flexible)

 

Our goals as an organization are in the shorter term for kids to have fun, learn to work together as a team, learn new things about themselves and be involved with adults who care about them.  In the longer term we want our kids to demonstrate interest in conservation and participate in activities like hiking with out us.


Camilla Rockwell said:

Hello Eric,

Just wanted to let you know that this issue is treated in our new film MOTHER NATURE'S CHILD: GROWING OUTDOORS IN THE MEDIA AGE. Brother Yusuf Burgess from Albany, NY demonstrates his nature mentoring work with inner city youth and his students talk about how they feel about it. Also, the film features the mentoring work of the Holistic Life Foundation in Baltimore, MD. These are all great people who are doing amazing work.

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