From Our Team
Program helping disconnected kids connect with the outdoors
Posted on June 6, 2016 by Guest Author
I recently had the opportunity to accompany my eleven year old son on his first official Boy Scout camp-out. As a father who was once a scout himself and loved to camp as a young man, I found myself a little anxious about the experience. I wanted my son to love camping the way I had when I was young. In this day and age of computers and video games, I was worried how this real life experience would match up against the virtual world he’d become accustomed to in his Minecraft video game.
Upon arriving at camp, I was quickly relieved to discover that the young people of today found the outdoors every bit as intriguing as I did as a youth. Thanks to some great volunteer leaders; we spent time hiking, cooking and eating, telling stories, performing skits, making s’mores, playing capture the flag, and even passing off some merit badge requirements.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of conversations about video games and YouTube video’s, but the boys seemed to genuinely enjoy the outdoors and spending time together. As I drove away from the campground, I listened to two boys in the back seat debating over their favorite moments and agreeing that this camping trip had been the “best experience” they’d yet to have. Seven young men spent a weekend outdoors, cooking and eating real food (no McDonalds drive thru here), performing physical labor (pitching tents, collecting fire wood, cleaning the camp ground), and exercising (hiking and capture the flag)…and they loved it.
The thing is, when young people go outdoors something amazing happens…they become healthier and develop new skills and friendships that they might not have had before. The Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s IGNITE initiative recognizes these health outcomes and works with nonprofit organizations to engage disconnected youth in the region with high quality programs during out of school hours. The Foundation refers to “disconnected youth” as people the ages of 7-18 who are not involved in out of school programs or participating in the labor market. Well-designed youth activities increase the developmental assets and protective factors needed for children and youth to lead healthy and productive lives.
The Boy Scouts of America Yucca Council was a recent grant recipient of the Foundation’s IGNITE initiative that worked to recruit 100 disconnected youth in Far El Paso and southwest New Mexico into the Boy Scouts of America program. So this summer, do something healthy for your kids and enroll them in a summer program. With programs being offered through the YMCA, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many more, it’s easier than ever to help your child improve their overall health and increase positive outcomes.
For more information about summer camps in the El Paso area visit www.elpasosummercamps.org, or for more information about the IGNITE initiative, visit the Paso del Norte Health Foundation at www.pdnhf.org.
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