The North River Family YMCA has launched a new outdoor adventure program for youth in grades six through 12, designed to provide opportunities to build team leadership skills, self-confidence and self-awareness through challenging outdoor activities.
The BOLD /GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) program offers canoeing, rock climbing and backpacking expeditions.
The North River Family YMCA is one of six Ys selected nationwide to receive a grant to launch BOLD/GOLD programs in their communities, thanks to generous donations to the national resource office for the nation’s Ys (YMCA of the USA) from the REI Foundation; the McKibben Merner Family Foundation; the Youth Outdoor Legacy Fund; and private donors Matt Hyde and Lisa Beaudreau, and Doug and Maggie Walker.
The primary goal of BOLD/GOLD is to reduce and remove barriers for all youth and teens, regardless of experience, ethnicity or socio-ecomonic status, to enjoy access to the outdoors through wilderness adventure and to build leadership values and skills. The program evolved from a successful afterschool leadership club offered by the YMCA of Greater Seattle at local YMCA branches and middle schools. “In 2006, as part of the afterschool club, we offered a backpacking expedition to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and it proved so popular that demand and interest just kept growing,” stated Andrew Jay, director of the program for the YMCA of Greater Seattle. “By 2010 more than 30 backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering expeditions involving more than 300 youth were scheduled.”
Daniel Kadwell, program director at the North River Family YMCA said the North River Y, looks forward to building on Seattle’s success. “Programs like BOLD/GOLD help the Y provide so many of the assets kids need to become successful adults, such as a sense of belonging, supportive relationships with adults, opportunities to enhance decision-making and leadership skills, and a sense of safety. We look forward to sharing and expanding the BOLD/GOLD program here in Chattanooga and are grateful to all of the foundation and individual donors who made this grant possible. Because of their generosity, we can connect many deserving boys and girls to the great outdoors so they can learn, grow and thrive - both in nature and in life.”
John Duntley, Senior Camping specialist and National BOLD/GOLD Program liaison, believes the benefits are long-lasting. “We are confident that the Ys that were selected will effectively pilot the BOLD/GOLD program at their Ys and in their communities to help develop young people into future leaders.”
Grant funding will enable participating Ys, including the North River Family Y, to provide financial assistance for teens to participate in BOLD/GOLD programs regardless of family income.
The North River Family YMCA invites local support for this new youth outreach program that it plans to build to be sustainable for years to come as a positive youth development effort for the community.