Camp Confluence and Partners for Youth Empowerment.

5 07 2017

sara3By: Sarah Worl     Photos: Marty Oppenheimer and PYE Global

With support from our Instructor Development Funds, I was able to attend Camp Confluence, organized by Partners for Youth Empowerment (PYE) in Whidbey Island, Washington. Camp Confluence was a 6-day gathering of camp directors, lead facilitators, and staff that are involved with camps based on the Creative Community Model. The Creative Community Model was developed by PYE over decades of youth summer camps across the globe. In their own words from the PYE website:

“With arts-based practices and leading-edge group facilitation strategies, Creative Community Facilitators cultivate environments in which people can realize their potential. By embracing positive risk-taking and free creative expression, youth and adults alike open up to new possibilities. Research shows that creative expression—in a supportive setting—nurtures qualities like empathy, teamwork, and problem solving, while also fostering joy, hope, and the desire for a meaningful life”

At Camp Confluence we talked a lot about the “Emotional Arc” that a camper experiences from the day they enter camp to when they leave, and how to support that transformative experience with community agreements, plenary activities, supported creative risk-taking, free time, nature time, and more. I appreciated the emphasis on the camper’s experience and curating the week’s activities to support their journey.

We also spent a whole day talking about how to further Equity and Anti-Oppression in all levels of our summer camps; from camp staff demographics, to camper recruitment, to food and sleeping arrangements, to incorporating explicit community agreements around equity in the beginning of the camp. It is rare that I am in a space of people so committed, honest, and eager to talk about Anti-Oppression in their institutions and programs and I am very grateful to have participated in those conversations and to emerge with a greater awareness of actions I can bring back to my work. I am looking forward to my upcoming outdoor recreation and summer camp season to see how I can incorporate bits of the creative community model into my work.

I’ve learned a lot of very practical facilitation skills from the PYE trainings and camps I’ve been involved in over the years. I’ve also witnessed many young people and adults (including myself) overcome old stories of fear and self doubt as we explore our creativity, connection to ourselves, connection to others, and connections to nature together in a supportive environment. I believe many of you that work with youth know what I’m talking about when I say that those moments of witnessing youth light up with hope, joy, and connection are what keep me coming back to this work, and giving me hope for the present and future. I am so grateful to be a part of the community at the River House Outdoor Program; a community that is so committed to fostering these types of magical and transformative experiences for youth and adults.

P.S and Fun Fact: A local summer camp hosted by the Oregon Country Fair called Culture Jam is based on the Creative Community Model and brings in facilitators that have led PYE camps across the U.S and internationally. The River House supports Culture Jam each year with a couple days of outdoor play at Fern Ridge! PYE also offers facilitation trainings in the Pacific Northwest each year- check them out at www.pyeglobal.org.  Their website also contains many great summer camp and youth program resources!

-The River House Instructor Development Fund (IDF) is an investment in our staff to seek extra training and experiences that can be brought back to their work and personal lives to help enrich experiences for both participants and instructors.

sara2

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements




Crow students roll through semester on skateboards they made themselves

7 06 2017

crowskate

Crow students spent months building their own skateboards. They tested them out at Washington Jefferson Park in Eugene Tuesday, May 6, 2017 with help from the City of Eugene River House Outdoor Center skateboard instructors.

Crow Middle/High School is incorporating skateboards into classes.

Students are celebrating the end of a semester-long project with a ride at Washington Jefferson Park.

Teachers said the project used techniques from math to art to teach kids how to create their own skateboard.

“It’s pretty cool that we get to, like, make them in school and stuff ‘cause most schools don’t have the opportunity since they’re so big they can’t do the classes like these,” said Olivia Clark, a ninth grade student at Crow Middle/High School.

They said since the project began, more than 20 students have been staying longer in class and skipping lunch to put together their project.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Oregon Country Fair.

“Doing math and science and they don’t even know it. It becomes part of the thing; that’s the way real life is and you can’t fake it with these kids,” said Tina Dwoarakowski, a teacher at Crow Middle/High School. “You know they know when you’re giving them busy work. They know that it’s got to be the real deal; it’s got to be authentic.”

Teachers said they plan to continue this project for years in the future.

From: KVAL 13 news broadcast

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine





ACA Swiftwater Rescue Experience

2 06 2017

live bait

If I had to identify with just one sport, it would be cycling. I’m an instructor for Bike Safety Education and Mountain Bike Adventure summer camps through the River House Outdoor Center. I raced extensively for seven years, two at the national level, and worked at bike shops for several years.  I have taught numerous bike skills clinics. When it comes to biking, I know my stuff.

That is not the case with river sports. While I have enjoyed some time rafting, canoeing, SUP’ing, or just hanging out and playing in the water, I’m a total beginner at all river and paddle sports. The truth is, the river scares me a little. I have never been very sure of what’s going on under that blue shimmer and white splashes, so I have remained hesitant to get completely obsessed with any river sport. I tried learning to kayak years ago, and just couldn’t get the roll down, so I gave up.

This will be my first summer working for the River House, and I plan to utilize all the opportunities available to me to expand my knowledge and add to my skills. Oregon offers so many awesome rivers, full fun activity and adventure, so I set for myself the goal to learn more skills and become proficient in a variety of river activities. A big first step was taking a Swiftwater Rescue certification class through American Canoe Association (ACA). I had to miss a few great mountain bike rides, but dedicating my weekend to personal growth and education was absolutely worth it!

Our instructor, Marciel Bieg, also a River House employee, started by laying the groundwork and philosophy—our priorities when doing a rescue. Number one, don’t become another victim! Just a few hours in the classroom covered all the basics. Then we learned to use throw ropes on dry land. By afternoon we were practicing rescue techniques in a rapid near the Autzen Footbridge.

On day two we learned a variety of anchor systems and mechanical advantage systems. My knowledge of rock climbing anchors really helped here, but even those with little experience learned to create safe anchors from a variety of materials. Then we piled on a bus and took to Row River to practice our skills.

We floated down a small rapid, practiced throw ropes and live bait rescue techniques. One of my favorite parts was trying to wade across the swift-moving river. It was a huge challenge, and I found myself floating downstream, never making it to the other side. We crossed with partners, and even rescued a “victim” as a group.

This experience helped me gain an enormous amount of confidence in the river. I am now able to advance my skills and knowledge of rafting and SUP’ing, knowing that I can handle whatever situation arises and help keep myself and the people around me safe.

This course is not just for professional guides. Literally ANYONE spending time in and around the river—it’s Eugene, so that’s pretty much everyone—would benefit from taking a Swiftwater Rescue course, or some kind of river safety education material our course.

I’m looking forward to an awesome summer full of mountain biking and river adventures!

-Misha Fuller

(The River House Instructor Development Fund makes money available for staff to use to better their skills through classes and training. In return the River House receives highly skilled staff and blog posts describing their experiences.)

crossing

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine





Swift Water Rescue Training

28 02 2017

swiftWith all the luck of the sky and the mountains, the storms have returned gifting us all with an abundance of sleet, snow pack, and rain drops.  The essence of life.  Thanks to an intricate and unexplainable series of fortunate events, I find myself granted the opportunity to travel into the heart of the forest and mountains; to travel into the river itself.  What’s more is the unexplainable magic of the opportunity to take part in the re-creation of the experience and adventure within the lives of others, from all walks of life, by means of a sea worthy whitewater raft.  Though simple in concept, these adventures and undertakings of which hold the power to shape shift lives and worlds, are also undeniably counterbalanced by the weight of risk.

Read the rest of this entry »





Is Nature the Key to Rehabilitating Prisoners?

5 12 2016

prisoners-nature-illo_h

Once released, the formerly incarcerated face a daunting set of challenges­—a job, a place to live, and, most urgently, breaking the cycle of bad friends and bad habits that can lead to more prison time. Now scientists and activists are asking whether nature may be essential to helping them build new lives.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2110396/great-escape

The linked article from Outside Magazine features our long time instructor Jen Jackson who also runs the mentorship program at Sponsors, an organization in Eugene that helps the formerly incarcerated relearn life beyond prison.

As a lover of the outdoors and the happiness it can bring to one’s life; I can only guess it could do wonders for others that are lost in the negatives that have gotten them in the correctional system.  The article highlights some successes and challenges in creating such a program; currently the only one in the nation.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine





House on the River

23 05 2016

 Eugene’s River House celebrates 50 years

Eugene's River House

Eugene’s River House

Ah, Eugene, “a great city for the arts and outdoors,” especially if you have the right gear, training and financial means to actually get down and dirty in the area’s natural wonders.

One factor for enjoying the outdoors is having access in the first place. The Eugene Rec Outdoor Program provides just that for Eugeneans, and the organization’s 50th anniversary is right around the corner.

Originally established by clean-water advocate Mel Jackson and the city of Eugene in the late 1960s, the outdoor program later was expanded by the Eugene Parks and Rec department. The group eventually acquired the nickname River House, seeing as the building is smack dab on the river. Canoeing, rock-climbing, white-water rafting and other activities have been added to the program’s activity list over time, and accessibility for the courses is a consistent factor for the River House team.

“We have a goal of making our program inclusive and accessible to anyone wanting to participate,” says program supervisor Roger Bailey, who’s been with River House for nearly 30 years. Bailey says he’s seen the positive community influence that accessible outdoor programs offer. “That is our mission,” Bailey says, “to help people grow and to help make this community a better place to live.”

For Bailey, this means approaching courses with “cultural respect, accountability, honesty and integrity.” He says more energy is going towards focusing on financial accessibility, and a youth sailing course provided by the outdoor program was recently able to share scholarships for low-income children.

“Every walk of life comes here to take our programs,” Bailey explains. River House programs provide people with, as he puts it, skills that need to be learned outside of school or work. Whether you’re feeling like honing your outdoorsy side in town or want to put some spur-of-the-moment REI purchase to the test out in the forest, the program has activities for all levels, and few exceed a $40 price tag — not to mention the handful of courses that are free to the public.

The River House’s 50th-anniversary celebration will be 4 to 7 pm Saturday, July 23, at 301 N. Adams Street, with food, circus arts, cake, kayaks and paddle boards provided at the event; more info at eugene-or.gov.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine





Being prepared: Taking a Wilderness First Responder Course

12 04 2013
Photo Credit: Lena Conlan/WMI of NOLS

Photo Credit: Lena Conlan/WMI of NOLS

Spring break for most is a time to celebrate and enjoy free time, but for a small group spring break meant waking up at seven a.m. and being in class by eight. Why? Because we wanted to become WFR’s. For those not familiar with the term WFR, it stands for Wilderness First Responder and is a first aid certification like no other. Most first aid classes focus on the basics, setting students up to be prepared for minor injuries in an urban setting. The WFR class is an eighty hour course that prepares its students to deal with injuries and illnesses in the backcountry. Taught by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), the WFR certification has become an industry standard and has improved the safety of trips lead by outdoor educators.

Photo Credit: David Anderson/NOLS

Photo Credit: David Anderson/NOLS

Taking the WFR is an undertaking of its own, it means committing to the eighty hour course, and for some City of Eugene River House staff it meant giving up spring break. The first day we met at 7:45 a.m., and next thing we knew it was day two and we were doing scenarios.  Scenarios were used to teach us how to assess patients, plan for their care and record important details about the patient. We had the opportunity to have our scenarios near the Life Flight landing area which provided an exciting element when the Life Flight helicopter was taking off or landing.

The first scenarios were fun, and all of our practice patients were conveniently found lying on their backs, in the perfect patient position, which gave us the ability to easily assess them. By day four things changed, we went outside to find our patients and at first we could not. They were not lying on the grass or sidewalk, we looked around at each other wondering where the instructors had put our patients. Sensing our confusion the instructors pointed to the bushes lining the area we were standing in, as we approached the bushes we could see our patients, not conveniently placed on the grass and certainly not in the perfect patient position. Luckily for our patients we had spent the morning practicing rolls and carries that would protect their spines. We clambered into the bushes and proceed to carefully remove our patients, while the extraction and assessment went well, all of us had splinters from the mulch for the next few days. A reminder that patients don’t always lie down in the grass and get into the perfect patient position before having a medical emergency.

Throughout the class we were challenged to think critically and to use the information we had been taught to deal with unique situations. Overall the course provided an excellent understanding of the challenges we would face should medical issues arise in the back-country as well as how to handle issues and provide high quality care. While we may have given up our spring break, the information we learned is highly valuable and as summer approaches we feel ready to play outside knowing that if someone should have a medical emergency we are prepared to offer them a high level of care.

Written by Althea Sullivan

To learn more about the WFR visit their website:

http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/wfr.shtml

To learn more about NOLS visit their website:

http://www.nols.edu/

To learn about the history of NOLS and founder Paul Petzoldt (please watch this video):

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine