Outdoor Outreach is a San Diego-based non-profit that provides a safe space for youth to learn about themselves and the people they’d like to be. Read Anthony’s story to learn a little about these types of experiences first-hand.
“Outdoor Outreach is an outlet for me to truly see what I’m capable of. Never in my life had I thought I would be the kind of person to do activities like a 4-5 day backpacking trip in the Sierras… that really surprised me! I’ve come a long way.
Looking back on growing up, what I remember the most is being raised by my grandma. She would take care of me when she was still around. My mom would work double, sometimes triple shifts. My mom would leave at 4 or 5 in the morning, and I would be with my grandma a lot of the time. She was like a second mom to me.
My grandma passed away Summer 2016 around July- it was a very confusing time for me. I was already dealing with a lot of stress with my position as class vice president and I wasn’t getting a lot of support. I was wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew, so it was a tough time. I was so focused on balancing out things for other people and I wasn’t doing what I needed to make myself happy.
Junior year, a friend invited me to go rock climbing with them through the Outdoor Outreach Adventure Club and I figured I’d give it a shot. It was a mountain biking trip; the staff made sure that everyone was included, and there were no loners in the group. Sometimes that’s how I am, but not that time. It was nice to be so involved. It was really cool to see my classmates in a different light (in nature) and it showed me a whole other side to them. I still remember that day very vividly. I remember asking myself, “wow, how did I not do this sooner?’
Since then, Outdoor Outreach has introduced me to some new hobbies, which I’m grateful for. My favorite is kayaking. When you’re on the water, nothing else matters. It’s simpler out there. They also got me involved in mountain biking. The first time I ever went mountain biking with Outdoor Outreach was at the Tijuana River Valley. It wasn’t easy, we were biking into the wind and it was hot… but I pushed myself and didn’t let myself stop. If it wasn’t for this one instructor, I would not have made it back to the van. Overall, the programming really opened me up to outdoor adventure much more- I feel like it’s often taken for granted.
Alongside the new activities in my life, Outdoor Outreach has really helped me grow as a person. It has changed me and made me more aware. It’s helped me address some of my insecurities like being proven wrong in an embarrassing way. Outdoor Outreach taught me that it’s okay to be wrong but just be honest about it- it can be a learning experience. They really want to give you the tools to succeed. They helped me get my CPR/First Aid certification and it opened up so many doors for me- I’m now the ‘nurse’ for my high school volleyball team. Looking ahead, I’d like to enlist in the U.S. Navy and become a Hospital Corpsman, so this is a good first step.”
Get involved with Outdoor Outreach today through volunteering or donating and help cultivate more young leaders like Anthony.
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.