What kind of experience can Outdoor Outreach provide to a young person? In the words of one of our instructors, Deven, Outdoor Outreach can be truly “eye-opening.” Connect with Deven’s story to see the transformative power that this program can have on San Diego’s youth and participants.
“I grew up in a single parent household, along with my brother and sister. I went to Mount Miguel High School, and joined Outdoor Outreach’s Adventure Club there my Senior year.
My first trip was a mountain biking trip at Los Penasquitos Canyon. I went with the whole Adventure Club at Mt. Miguel and one of my high school teachers. I already had a love and passion for the outdoors before Outdoor Outreach, but it really opened my eyes to the outdoors and broadened my perspective. Just hanging out with all those great people was really inspiring to me.
After I went out with the club a few times, the opportunity came up for me to join the Leadership Program. The teachers at the school told me about it – I was interested so I applied. I came in and was interviewed and got the position to do a year-long internship. I’ve been at Outdoor Outreach for three years now.
My most recent trip was a rock climbing trip in Mission Gorge. For some of the students this was their first time climbing. Seeing some of them really exceed my expectations of what they can do was amazing. This was a group of students from El Cajon Valley High School, where I’m assistant coordinator of the Adventure Club. I love seeing them have a great time and really benefiting from our lessons and our work with them. A lot of these students are from Afghanistan and Syria, so it’s really out of their world… they’re definitely hesitant and nerve-wracked at first. But with all the encouragement we gave them, they got up there and made it at least half way up, which is still a victory.
Outdoor Outreach definitely opened many doors for me, and gave me a lot of opportunities to help myself succeed… I can’t tell you how much I’m appreciative of Outdoor Outreach… they’ve done a lot for me, and have pushed me, and gave me the opportunity to be involved in my Outward Bound course – that was one of the biggest things I’ve ever done, one of my biggest accomplishments in life.
[The course was] a 22-day backpacking course in the High Sierras, and we were hiking through Sequoia King’s National Forest. It was very very challenging. There was lots of snowfall this year up in the Sierra and the river was roaring. We did a bunch of hikes through the snow. It was such an amazing experience. I’ve been backpacking in the Sierras two other times with friends, but that was just for a few days, not 22 days. I saw 5 brown bears there, at the same time too! Our group was next to this meadow in the forested area, just working on lesson plans. We all looked across the meadow and there were all these black bears just strolling about, looking for berries and whatnot. That was the first time I’ve seen a bear in person… luckily they didn’t disrupt our camp that night!
The Outward Bound course was a scholarship opportunity for my personal growth and training. The lessons we got on the course were easily applied to Outdoor Outreach – that was my main goal of going into the course; to learn things I could apply to the field at Outdoor Outreach. I’ve been wanting to make being an outdoor guide my career, because I love what I do and I love the students and all the people I work with… it’s the whole package. I’m loving what I’m doing right now and being an outdoor guide is the path I’d like to stay on.”
Programs like Outdoor Outreach are important because they help give kids access to green spaces and the coast. Those types of experiences are significant because they disconnect them from a lot of the ‘real world’ stuff and the bad stuff in their lives. Maybe it’s school stuff or domestic problems at home…. It gets them connected to a lot of great stuff that’s going on in the outdoors, giving them this eye-opening experience that they deserve that they might not get with their families or at school. It gives them a safe space to reset and figure out who they are outside of all of that. There’s a lot of room for them to grow as a leader in these spaces as well. We need that!”
Contribute to non-profit organizations like Outdoor Outreach and help develop more leaders like Deven, who are giving other youth confidence in their power to make a difference.
Hayley Eyer is the Events & Communications Intern in the Development department of Outdoor Outreach. She loves to SUP, travel and cook. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Business Administration at San Diego State University.