As we wrapped up our Fall 2021 school programs this week, we couldn't help but reminisce on our time at these schools. We are so thankful for the time we've had in these programs, the lessons the students learned, and the memories made. As the final step in our programming, we took a group of youth on an Adventure Wilderness Trip to Garner State Park last weekend. This week during our final meetings with these students, we shared stories of the trip and reminisced on our favorite moments. Taking this group of youth camping was such a blast... here's a look into how our weekend went!
Camping: Night One
First we gathered at the Youth Odyssey office, packed our belongings, and headed out to Garner State Park! We left on Friday after school and stopped at Subway for dinner on the way. It was so encouraging to see the kids begin to step out of their comfort zones as they ordered for themselves. It was here that many of the youth from different schools started developing friendships and connections. After eating dinner, we hit the road again to Garner State Park. Upon arrival, we quickly set up camp and headed straight to bed. With a day of adventure ahead of us, we wanted to make sure we got as much rest as possible.
A Day of Adventure
Our full day at Garner started as all great days start, with breakfast tacos! After we cleaned up breakfast, we packed our water, snacks, and other hiking items into our day packs and hit the trail. The trail we picked had multiple steep inclines on the way to the summit, but all of our youth showed bravery and resilience as we made it to the summit as a full team.
After we summited, we took a break to eat our trail snacks and replenish our energy. The hike down proved equally or even more challenging than the hike up, but our youth came together and helped each other down the trail safely. They'd often point out unstable rocks or slippery paths to each other, which was incredibly thoughtful! Many of the youth were excited by the amount of dogs we saw on the trail. They were so respectful in asking to pet the dogs first before they approached them. When we made it back to camp, we celebrated this victory with a lunch of sandwiches and chips. From here, we headed to explore the Frio River and the park gift shop!
Another essential stop for our youth on the way to the river was the ice cream shop that was next to the gift shop. We enjoyed ice cream and waffle cones on our walk down to the water! Our campers enjoyed swimming in the Frio, using the tiny waterfall almost like a slide down into the river. At the river all of the youth really bonded and enjoyed playing in the water together. It made us so happy to see our youth having so much fun after a tough hike! Swimming in the river was a huge highlight on this trip and we can't wait to plan another trip back to Garner soon! After spending some time in the river and at the gift shop, we all headed back to camp to get changed into dry clothes and sit in front of the fire.
Camping: Night Two
We played games together around the fire, ate fajitas, and ended our evening with s'mores and hot chocolate. After we finished dinner, we played more games around the fire and shared lots of laughs. Going around the circle, we shared our favorite moments of the trip and reflected on our time together. After, we headed to bed in preparation for an early morning of packing up camp and heading back home!
A Trip to Remember
This camping trip was a first for many of our youth. Out of the seventeen we took on this trip, the majority had never been camping before. Many of our youth stepped out of their comfort zones this weekend, while others stepped up as leaders to help them navigate this new experience. We could not be more proud of the growth we've seen in these students... not only on the camping trip, but also through the duration of these school programs. It was incredibly heartwarming to see students discover their interests in the outdoor world. Whether they fell in love with hiking, enjoyed camping, or just lit up spending time unplugged and outside, it was so sweet to experience. We are so proud of every student that's been involved in our school programs this semester and we cannot wait to be back in February!