April 24, 2019

It’s the heart of spring, and summer is around the corner… and our Summer Search family just got a whole lot bigger!

Summer Search SophomoresSummer Search Seattle students at their Sophomore Orientation Workshop.

For the past several months, our staff has worked diligently to make preparations to welcome a new class of high school sophomores, the Class of 2021, into our program.

Across the network, Summer Search accepted more than 600* amazing young people!

New York City SophomoresSummer Search New York City students and staff at a welcome event.

Increasing Access for Students and Families

After students complete their interviews and are selected, they meet with their new mentors and then come together with other newly-accepted sophomores at orientation workshops, which we call SOWs.

At the SOWs, students and their families are invited to celebrate their acceptance to Summer Search. This year, for the first time ever, Summer Search Boston brought the workshops to their students at Chelsea High School and Malden High School, instead of having the events at their office. Parents were also invited to attend. The goal was to make it easier for students from those neighborhoods to participate and to include parents earlier in the admission process.

BO-Sophs-2019Students at a Summer Search Boston Sophomore Orientation Workshop.

Getting parents, guardians, and families more involved in the Summer Search experience has been a focus across our network.

“There is so much excitement around welcoming new students and families,” explains Monica Manzo, a Summer Search Seattle mentor. “Informing families about the experience their student is about to engage in is rewarding; [the families] get to be involved in something that is new and exciting for their students.”

SE-SOW-Families-2019Students and families at the Seattle SOW.

Preparing for Summer

Sophomore events are also a great opportunity to educate students and families about summer experiences and to celebrate trip selection as a group.

Watch mentors at our Boston and Philadelphia offices doing their best Oprah impressions during these Trip Reveals — “You get a summer trip! You get a summer trip!”

BO-Trip-RevealStudents celebrating their summer program selection in Boston.

Later in the spring, our new students dive deeper into summer trip prep. This includes getting their boots, trying on equipment, and participating in fitness events — physical challenges to help them prepare for their first summer experience, which is usually a wilderness program.

In Philly, students engaged in a full day of activities: running three miles with the help of Philly alumna and fitness instructor Nadiyah Young, and participating in teamwork and ropes course exercises with our partners at Outward Bound Philadelphia.

PH-2019-fitness-dayPhilly students at their fitness event with Outward Bound Philadelphia.

Boston and New York City both adjusted their programming to take their sophomores on hikes to better introduce students to the kinds of challenges that they will face in their upcoming wilderness experiences.

Watch highlights from NYC’s hike — students and staff traveling from the Summer Search Bronx office to Sterling State Park — in this video made by Nancy Brito, NYC mentor:

In order to give their students the most opportunities to participate, our Summer Search Bay Area team is hosting hella hikes in every corner of the San Francisco Bay — from Fremont, to Richmond, to Napa, to Santa Rosa.

BA-Hiking-Group-1 BA-Hiking-Group-2Bay Area students and staff on recent fitness hikes.

Thank You, Mentors

As you can see, bringing 600+ new students into our program takes a LOT of work. So, we want to send a special shout out to our incredible staff who worked so hard to make this possible, from conducting student interviews, to preparing informational packets, to organizing welcome and fitness events.

“I am always moved by this season – by how much we support each other, how much we show up for students, and the ways we work together,” shares Colleen Klus, Director of our Bay Area High School Program. “Thank you for all the beautiful things you [mentors] appreciated about each student and about each other… The energy and love on this team is so special and contagious.”

Our mentors also repeatedly go the extra mile to create a supportive and inclusive environment for our students. Jonathen Williams, Seattle Mentor, shares one example.

“I recently met with a student at her school and I didn’t want her to miss her lunch so I brought her one! She was sweet and appreciative! This speaks to how much effort can go into sophomore enrollment and we really get to think about the ways we can meet students where they are at and make our program accessible.”

Seattle StaffSeattle staff at their Sophomore Orientation Workshop.

So please join us in thanking our staff, and of course, welcoming our new Summer Searchers! We wish them luck as they get ready for their first summer trips, the first big step in their transformative Summer Search journeys!

*The total of new sophomores represents the number of students who have enrolled in Summer Search, as of April 22, 2019.

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