“Future Leaders” Group Embarks on Epic Harriman State Park Expedition

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On August 9th, four intrepid Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 10.48.27 AMyouth from the Future Leaders program, loaded into a van at The Bronx Zoo and headed up the Hudson River to Harriman State Park.

The Future Leaders program is a youth and workforce development program that:

  • Supports participants in developing their sense of social responsibility;
  • Teaches critical life skills necessary for success in academics and/or employment pursuits; and
  • Contributes tools for becoming effective leaders in communities and around the world.

A little unsure of what to expect, participants packed their belongings, food, and gear into backpacks, and took off into the back country for four days. While members of this crew knew each other before the expedition, the group grew closer as they supported one another and began working as a team. The team was completely self supported, carrying everything it needed to survive. Participants cooked their own food, learned to read maps, found a new appreciation for nature, and slept in tents each night (even in the rain).IMG_8154

The crew backpacked more then 12 miles up and down steep mountains and rocky scrambles over the course of the expedition. They saw beautiful views with a distant New York City skyline, dipped their toes in mountain lakes, and even watched a sunrise. While working hard as a team on long hikes, participants pushed their limits and learned about their true inner strength. Each participant talked about how he or she would be able to use the skills learned on the expedition to push themselves through the difficult and exciting times ahead.

IMG_8178This journey was much more then just a camping trip. Participants were just a week or so away from starting college, and as the journey progressed, they were able to reflect upon the significant transition they were about to embark upon. The expedition provided everyone an opportunity to get away from their usual lives, giving them a new perspective on all that they have accomplished during their time with Future Leaders.

Outside Perspectives was thrilled to get the opportunity to work with these amazing young adults. What became clear to us through this expedition, was that each one of them is an engaging, caring and thoughtful individual with tremendous opportunities and bright futures ahead.

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Thank you to Ferney Giraldo for joining us on this journey! Also, special thanks to both Ferney and Sa’Dia Chance for playing pivotal roles in securing funds and for completing a lot of the background preparations for the expedition.

We also would like to thank The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Youth Opportunities Program for providing the gear and helping with planning for this expedition.

And finally, a HUGE thank you to the Future Leaders youth….for your tremendous courage to join us, for your unflappable positive attitudes, sense of humor, and for reminding us to never underestimate what is possible with a team. It was a GREAT course with so many positive memories. Best of luck in the coming weeks as you begin your college journeys. We have full confidence in each of you! And we’ll look forward to seeing you again in the future.

Cheers, to the first of many expeditions to come with Future Leaders!

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Future Leaders Program Manager, Ferney Giraldo (center) with Outside Perspectives Director Nicky Wood (right) and Outside Perspectives Program Manager Shannon Zich (left)
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Waterbury Youth Spend Two Days Exploring Local Parks with Outside Perspectives

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PVC pipes with textOutside Perspectives facilitated two team-building days with a group of inspiring individuals from Waterbury Youth Services on July 26th at Hamilton Park and August 9th at Fulton Park, in Waterbury. The team brought great energy both days and a willingness to step up, diving into the challenges presented to them. As a group, we explored some of Waterbury’s hidden natural spaces, laughed a lot, soaked up sun, got to know odd and interesting things about each other, and successfully completed several group initiatives, including Pipeline (see image to the left). The youth stepped up to the challenge, supporting each other as things got tough, and participating fully in every activity.

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Treasure found! A Geocache treasure hunt, requiring individuals to decode a clue and to use navigational skills to find a “cache,” brought out a great spirit of adventure.

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By the end of the days together, the youth expressed a desire to participate in more challenging outdoor experiences in the future, including an overnight expedition. As they look forward to the upcoming school year, these participants will be able to use some of these experiences to help them overcome the challenges that await them as seniors. In addition, the bond formed between these young people will ensure a support system that they will be able to utilize throughout the year.

Outside Perspectives would like to thank Olivia Jefferson for helping to organize the courses and participating in some of the activities. We hope that this is the beginning of an ongoing partnership that might include future courses, and maybe even an overnight adventure or expedition.

Check out Waterbury Youth Services Facebook page where they commented on their experiences with us.