Through the Explore Fund, The North Face has donated over 1.5 million dollars to community organizations helping break down barriers to getting people outside and exploring. 2014 Explore Fund grantee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of greater Chesapeake, shares how they used their funding to help teenagers try climbing for their first time.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake (BBBSGC) is the oldest and largest mentoring organization in the region. We help children and youth reach their fullest potential by building safe and enduring mentoring relationships through best practices, quality standards, and professional support. We have served Central Maryland for over 60 years, and have since grown to include satellite offices in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore. As a local affiliate of both Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and The National Mentoring Partnership/MENTOR, we operate the Maryland Mentoring Resource Center, which provides training, technical assistance, and resources to mentoring programs, mentors, and other youth service professionals across the state.
Thanks to support from the 2014 Explore Fund, youth ages 14-18 enrolled in the BBBSGC Positive Pathways Program Baltimore (P3B) participated in a team building workshop at Outward Bound in the fall. Activities encouraged the youth to strengthen peer relationships, test their own limits, and learn to effectively express themselves. Throughout the experience, Outward Bound instructors offered structure and delineated appropriate limits, helping students to set realistic goals, and offering ample opportunities for students to be involved in decision-making.
In the afternoon, youth participated in a rock climbing wall activity in which they were paired with another youth. This activity challenged them mentally, physically and emotionally and encouraged them to push their personal limits. One of the youth excelled at climbing, while his partner found the task particularly difficult. Instead of rushing up the wall to the top, he patiently slowed down and climbed at his partner’s pace – eventually reaching the top together. During the debrief they noted, “working together made the climb easier and taught us the importance of teamwork.”
With a focus on increasing self-awareness, communication and goal-setting, the youth returned home from the experience having further developed the values and skills needed to create and maintain a healthier self-image, form trusting relationships, and discover the leader within themselves. In addition to this excursion, youth in the P3B mentoring program focus on developing leadership skills, preparing for college, building job readiness skills, and participating in restorative justice activities.
Is your organization looking for funding to get people outdoors, or know an org that would be a great fit? Applications for the 2015 Explore Fund grants are now open at explorefund.org. Click here to watch more from Explore Fund grantees.