Celebrate summer with outdoor adventure

DECA Middle students recently participated in a three-day Trailblazing Hope Outdoors program. CONTRIBUTED
DECA Middle students recently participated in a three-day Trailblazing Hope Outdoors program. CONTRIBUTED

Trailblazing Hope Outdoors promotes the healing benefits of nature

Recreation, education, and conservation are the objectives, but the experiences are also chock full of fun.

Trailblazing Hope Outdoors is a nonprofit organization designed to help young people gain access to the healing benefits of nature. From educational programs and conservation opportunities to outdoor recreation activities, Trailblazing Hope Outdoors provides events and programs year-round to students from middle school through high school. More than 120 young people, from seven different schools, have participated in the organization’s programs in just the past few months.

But it’s about more than quantity; it’s about the quality of the experience.

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“It’s like there’s a switch that gets flipped from the kids being kind of standoffish when they first get there to trusting you and really buying in,” said Jonathan Slider, executive director and lead adventurer. “They begin to feel more confident in nature, not as fearful or uncertain. It’s amazing to see.”

From young outdoor enthusiasts to city kids who have never pitched a tent, the organization strives to provide meaningful experiences for all participants. Trailblazing Hope Outdoors recently completed a three-day program with DECA Middle school students that included Leave No Trace and camping curriculum and games, as well as a paddling program at Eastwood Lake MetroPark.

“There was a lot of energy, a lot of smiles and a lot of laughter,” Slider said.

The May Adventure Series introduced the young adventurers to climbing. CONTRIBUTED
The May Adventure Series introduced the young adventurers to climbing. CONTRIBUTED

The programs took off last fall in several Greene County schools and have since expanded to other school districts. While some programs – like the DECA series – were done in conjunction with the school, the programs are open to anyone.

“We are definitely trying to cast a bigger net and get more kids involved,” Slider said. “Our goal is to get into Dayton schools and start providing more opportunities and planting that seed.”

The May Adventure Experience introduced the young participants to the thrill of climbing. With the help of the Wright State University’s Campus Recreation team, the rookie climbers scaled the challenging 14-foot bouldering wall.

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And summertime means even more fun as Trailblazing Hope Outdoors has partnered with RiversEdge Outfitters in Waynesville to offer kayaking programs throughout June. Participants will kayak along 3.5 miles of the scenic Little Miami River and might even stop along the way to take a dip in the refreshing water.

Young adventurers can discover ways to make a difference in July as there will be opportunities to participate in both trail and river clean-ups and explore the Beaver Creek Wetlands Reserve.

“It’s so exciting to see these kids start embracing their inner nature child,” Slider said.

Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.

Trailblazing Hope Outdoors summer programs

June adventure experiences

What: Paddle down the Little Miami River for a 3.5-mile kayak adventure

Who: Middle and high school students

When: June 11, 16, 25 and 30

Where: RiversEdge Outfitters, Waynesville

Cost: $15

Info: www.trailblazinghope.com or visit Trailblazing Hope Outdoors on Facebook

Summer outdoor program

What: Introduction to conservation with a trail and river clean-up as well as a guided tour of the Beaver Creek Wetlands

Who: Middle and high school students

When: July, dates to be determined

Where: Beaver Creek Wetlands Reserve, 2090 Dayton-Xenia Road Info: www.trailblazinghope.com or visit Trailblazing Hope Outdoors on Facebook