This past Saturday, April 9th, Youth Odyssey participated in the 17th annual Earth Day-Bay Day celebration at Heritage Park. Earth Day-Bay Day is an event put on by the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation to educate the public about the bays, estuaries, other native habitats, and the importance of clean air, water and a clean environment. To help educate the guests there were many fun exhibits. Some included the Gladys Porter Zoo, Sky Kings Falconry, Catch and Release Fishing Tank, Youth Odyssey’s rock climbing wall, Texas Coastal Expo touch tank, and pet adoptions/registrations.
The purpose of Earth Day Bay Day is to motivate individuals to become environmentally proactive in their day-to-day lives while encouraging the protection of native habitats and promoting low-to no-impact outdoor activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, birding, fly-fishing, gardening and hiking. That’s where Youth Odyssey comes in. Part of our programming schedule includes adventure challenges, which allow youth to experience the outdoors and use current conservation techniques and practices to reinforce the importance of preserving natural lands. In addition to environmental practices, our adventure challenges help youth gain important life skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, not to mention self confidence, which is directly correlated with grades and behavior.
Because of our aligning missions, Youth Odyssey has been an active part of the Earth Day-Bay Day festivities for the past six years. Each year we bring out a portable rock wall for anyone who is interested in the challenge. Usually, only the kids will be the ones who climb the wall (but not always) which gives us a chance to discuss Youth Odyssey’s mission and promote our summer camps and programming to parents and friends.
Last year Earth Day-Bay Day fell on rainy, gloomy day and this year seemed to be headed in that direction as well. Luckily, the inclement weather subsided early on and the rest of the day was a breezy, sunny, coastal Saturday, which is perfect rock wall climbing weather. So perfect in fact that on more than one occasion we had a long line of excited participants. Knowing that the rock wall was usually a big hit, we made sure to have extra hands on deck to help harness and encourage our climbers as well as to maintain order. We put out a “bat signal” to all of our youth mentors and it didn’t take long to have a full-days worth of volunteers ready to go. In total we had seven mentors helping with the rock wall and discussing their experiences with the participants and their parents.
Thanks to the weather holding up and the help of our mentors, the 17th Annual Earth Day-Bay Day was a success in Youth Odyssey’s book. We are looking forward to next year already but, before that, we have our summer camps to be excited about so don’t forget to sign up today or inquire if you have questions! (The cutoff is May 31st).