In 2012, I had finished working at an Outdoor Education Center in Alberta, Canada and was looking for a new job. I found an ad for a company in Texas and figured I would apply. What I was looking for was my next adventure, what I found was a place to help youth grow and find growth in myself.
When I first started at Youth Odyssey in January 2013, Becky and I would meet at a coffee shop once a week to have our staff meeting and then return to our home offices to carry out the week. We would e-mail and call each other when we needed input, but overall, we didn’t see each other too much. Since then, we have moved into an office where all of the staff can work together, which has greatly improved our productivity as well as help us to feel more like a team.
Youth Odyssey has also grown by leaps and bounds by adding three full time facilitators, bringing up our staff number to five. We also hit our 20th year of operation, changed our branding, and began construction on a new ropes course building. Youth Odyssey is not the same organization that it was when I first joined all those years ago and I am very proud to have been a part of that journey.
Over the past five years, I have worked 76 programs, spent 960 hours at the ropes course, went on 13 kayak trips, spent 47 weekends camping at 18 different state parks, and went on 28 week long camping trips. Those have all been amazing adventures and times I will always remember. But, what will stick with me the most is the youth that I have worked with and the changes I have seen in them.
The youth we work with can be challenging at times but that is the point of the job. We take pride in working with tough kids and finding the diamond within that others tend to overlook; and I have seen growth in every single youth I have worked with.
The youth I am most proud of working with are our Youth Leaders. Most of these youth I have seen grow and change over the past five years. With these youth, I have trained them on how to run the ropes course, how to belay, how to canoe and, most importantly, how to work with other youth. I have no doubt that the youth I have worked with will go on to accomplish great things in their lives using the things they have learned at Youth Odyssey as a foundation.
After so much excitement and growth, I have decided to leave Youth Odyssey for my next adventure. When I first arrived, I was more or less fresh out of University with a bunch of camp experience but Youth Odyssey helped me step outside my comfort zone and grow as a person, a facilitator, and as a director.
I am truly thankful to have to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from Becky, Kayla, Naomi, Kelsie, Rick, Micaela, Gabby, and everyone else who has worked with Youth Odyssey. I know that wherever I go from here, I will carry the lessons I have learned with Youth Odyssey and the memories of the adventures I had.