There are a number of great outdoors-focused non-profits in the Richmond region tackling challenges big and small and from many different angles. One of our favorites is the Blue Sky Fund, a Church Hill-based organization, that, as it likes to say, “is on a mission to provide transformational experiences for urban youth through outdoor education and adventure.”
One of the programs it uses to reach youth, most of whom come from communities that don’t have strong connections to the outdoors, is called the Outdoor Leadership Institute. With OLI, Blue Sky leads crews of rising 9th-12th graders “from diverse backgrounds to come together to build teamwork, confidence, leadership, and community involvement. The summer institute centers on a five-day backpacking trip, during which crew members learn how to strengthen their leadership and teamwork skills by confronting the challenges of the wilderness. The program design includes experiences that will help shape knowledgeable multicultural leaders who learn about the social needs of Richmond through service learning. After completion of the summer institute, crew members will meet monthly through the following school year to apply their new skills to meaningful community service.”
Blue Sky is currently accepting applications (through Feb. 15) for the OLI (there are separate boys and girls five-day programs). Here’s what Blue Sky is looking for: Current 8th, 9th,10th, and 11th graders who are:
● Open to new and challenging experiences
● Wanting to grow in leadership in their community
● Wanting to meet other youth from Richmond
● Able to commit to the program
Nominations most often come from teachers, youth organization professionals, mentors, counselors, and former alumni, but any adult can nominate a student or students to the program. If you know a kid who you think fits the bill, click here to learn more.