Adventure camp inspires Flathead Reservation youth

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Students recently returned home inspired and tired after multiple day trips to a summer camp-style program called “Adventure with a Purpose.”

The program is a partnership between the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County (Club) and Bighorn Christian Camp.

Beginning last September, the club offered “adventure trips” at Camp Bighorn for participating youth in the fall and spring.

Kids were grouped by their ages and each group enjoyed a one-day camp experience every semester.

At each adventure trip, students learned new ways of dealing with challenges and working as a team to overcome obstacles.

This summer, the club will also offer a week-long camp for students grade 6 and up, giving Boys and Girls Club members more opportunities to participate.

“The kids who go to Adventure Camp learn the value and need for faith and resiliency – skills that can change the trajectory of a person’s life,” Aric Cooksley, club executive director, said.

Staff members also feel the lasting impact of the camp, and return with a better understanding of positive youth development and ways to grow their ability to positively interact with club members daily.

Cooksley said that many of the club members are in a “cycle of poverty,” which makes thinking about the future difficult when they don’t know where they’ll be sleeping at night or when they’ll eat next.

“Kids are impacted on so many levels by discouraging circumstances, ineffective coping skills and simple hopelessness,” Cooksley said.

The camps are examples of change and growth, he added.

The expanded program provided the opportunity for over 50 club members ages 9-16 to attend the camp.

While parents were asked to pay a small fee for their children to attend, the program was primarily made possible through donations and private funding by groups including the Gianforte Family Foundation.

Although the camp operates as a Christian camp, Club members and staff of all faiths are welcome and activities are not religiously focused.

For more information on The Boys and Girls Club, contact Cooksley at hope@ronan.net.

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