The following is a reflection from Carly Solberg, Summer Search Bay Area Mentor, after having the opportunity to participate in a summer experience with Environmental Traveling Companions.
In the Bay Area, we have a small-but-mighty Summer Experience Team that puts a lot of love and energy into finding trips for our students that feel exciting and challenging. It's a key part of our program and my mentoring because it's something that my students really look forward to and is often the highlight of their summers. It's something that pushes them through the school year and inspires them to do good.
In July, I had the opportunity to attend one of these summer experiences. In the Bay Area, we partner with an organization called Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC). ETC is a local non-profit program that provides outdoor education, prioritizing giving Youth of Color the opportunity to explore the outdoors and get to know themselves better.
During my six-day trip, I acted as a co-instructor alongside two ETC trip instructors and eleven participants, including two Summer Searchers! We camped at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, learned how to kayak in Sausalito, and camped on Angel Island. There's a special sense of camaraderie and community that comes with being on an outdoor trip together. You must rely on each other for everything and connecting with people comes a lot more naturally.
Carly and students camping, kayaking, connecting, on their ETC summer experience.
The hardest part of the trip was leaving. It felt like a family had been created and I was sad that I couldn't be there for the entire time to watch the kids continue to grow. But even in those six days, I saw so much growth in those young people.
Over the last three and a half years as a Summer Search mentor, I've sent dozens of students on summer trips. Actually living out the experience myself gave me a new perspective into what it's like to prepare for a trip, participate in a trip, and integrate the experience into my personal life. It’s been a blast reflecting with my students on their trips and connecting on another level.
At the beginning of our trip, everyone came together to form community agreements. One of them stands out to me as advice I would give anyone going on an outdoor experience or trying anything new and out of their comfort zone:
Embrace the challenge!
HUGE THANK YOU to Carly for sharing your story and to our partners at ETC for providing such unique and impactful experiences!!
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