There are a handful of questions we are consistently asking at LEAP: How do we offer this opportunity to more people? What more can we offer our partner communities? How do we create more touch-points for the communities that get built on each of our programs in the summer? There are of course also questions that fuel the refinement of what is already so good about our programs, to enhance our impact in subtle yet significant ways.
Through taking up these questions over these first many months as Program Director, and through extensive and on-going conversations with partner staff, I’ve been developing a set of new program offerings and curriculum, as well as refining the impactful multi-day kayak programs that have been the cornerstone of the LEAP vision. In 2018, we will facilitate four new types of programs alongside continuing to offer our long-standing and primary river programs. Our wilderness river programs will continue to be our Flagship offering – the original and well-tended LEAP experience.
We will also incorporate a new version of our reunion gatherings – Eddy Out offerings will be day or half-day events each Fall for each Flagship group to reunite, touch-in about goals, celebrate progress, and reinvigorate friendships. As a 2017 participant said: I learned that it is okay to “eddy out” of life and regroup, rest, and reset. That’s what we hope our Eddy Out programs offer to each individual and group. These programs may often include a family engagement component for groups where that is applicable and appropriate.
In explorations with partner staff, it was shared that for many prospective participants it can be challenging for them to imagine themselves in such a different setting, doing an activity that is completely new to them, for an entire week. In the hopes to engage more participants who may experience this and other barriers to attending our Flagship program in Idaho, we will facilitate three new programs that are shorter in duration and a bit closer to home.
Our Explore offering will be one-day programs, often involving an outdoor or river-based activity, operating in the Portland Metro area. These day-length programs will offer fun, new experiences, and opportunities to connect with peers who have experienced similar situations. Explore programs can be geared toward middle-school-aged youth who aren’t old enough for our Flagship programs or specific sub-sets of the populations we serve such as LBGTQ youth, youth preparing for life post-high school, or youth who remain in treatment for an illness where they are unable to travel longer distances.
Our Immersion offering will be overnight or weekend programs that offer skill-building, community building, and an overnight entry-point for participants who have more significant barriers to attending our Flagship programs. Immersions will be offered in the spring and fall at destinations around Oregon, either camping or in cabins, and are focused on similar populations as our Explore programs. Immersions will offer extended access in inspiring locations that are ripe for learning, personal reflection, and various movement activities.
ReRun will be a weekly program, operating at partner sites for specific populations. A favorite activity on our Flagship program is the opportunity to “rerun” a rapid, as a way to push oneself, build skills, and gain confidence. Our ReRun programs will offer that same opportunity for groups in their own backyard; whether utilized as preparation and community-building for an upcoming Flagship program, a platform for developing life and leadership skills, or creating a safe space for learning, group processing, and personal reflection or goal-setting.
These offerings will begin with three of our partners and specific populations within those communities. For Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, we will offer a spring Explore and fall Immersion program for middle-school aged patients. With New Avenues for Youth, we will partner specifically with their SMYRC (Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center) program for a spring Explore and fall ReRun program. For Friends of the Children, we will offer both a spring and fall ReRun after-school program – in the spring as a way to form, orient, and support the group that will join us on their Flagship program in Idaho, and in the fall for middle-school aged students. I look forward to sharing about each experience as we flow through the year.
It’s an exciting time at LEAP with many good things to come. We are grateful for your on-going engagement and support as we grow our program offerings in significant ways in 2018. Next Thursday I’ll share more about specific elements that weave through this family of programs. Keep in touch, and paddle on.