Taking a ‘Whole Person’ Approach to Helping At-Risk Students

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 30, 2016

To some high school students, the sweltering summer months may be the perfect time to lose themselves in video games or binge-watch television shows.

Not to 17-year-old Cedric Cumba. This summer, after his sophomore year at Chelsea High School, he was exploring the Minnesota wilderness, hiking and canoeing in the expanse of the Superior National Forest. Summer Search Boston, a nonprofit enrichment program that provides mentoring and scholarships, helped prepare him for the trip and cover the cost.

The three-week experience was grueling, both physically and emotionally. But Cedric said hepushed through the limits, learning how to adjust to uncomfortable environments in the process.

“There were some hard times, but that’s what I expected,” said Cumba, who returned earlier this month. “That’s what I signed up for.”

Cumba is one of 400 high school students in Greater Boston benefiting from Summer Search this year. The organization, which started in San Francisco and is celebrating its 20th year in Massachusetts, aims to rise teens above systemic barriers that may naturally prevent them from developing their full potential as students.

Summer Search spends about $6,500 per year on each student, funded by donations from corporate partners, foundations, and individuals, according to executive director Liz Marino. It employs 13 full-time mentors who keep tabs on the students weekly during the school year.

The students also go on two summer trips. The first is a wilderness excursion, where rising juniors join larger groups through organization partners such as Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School. The second is a service or academic trip that can take students outside the country before their senior year.

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Oregon Native Returns from 75-day Alaska Expedition

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 29, 2016

After spending several days marooned in a whiteout atop a distant Alaskan mountain, 21-year-old Katiya Gombar ventured outside her tent and was immediately stunned by what she saw.

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Nadia Carrie's Summer Semester in Alaska

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 29, 2016

The 19-year-old recently finished a 75-day expedition in Alaska, kayaking, hiking and mountaineering hundreds of miles over land, sea and snow. Carrie’s expedition was part of a summer semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School, a program that runs wilderness programs for students.

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A Rejected ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Finds Love

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 26, 2016

As an escape, he signed up for a three-week National Outdoor Leadership School sailing expedition in Mexico in October 2012. “You just hold your head high and go sailing and hope the ocean has the answer,” he said.

Allison Palm, now 26, also signed up for the trip. She had just graduated from Brown and wanted to do something out of the ordinary and out of her comfort zone. “I was a supernerd in high school,” she said. “I was this very strict engineer in college. I knew I was going to be an engineer in my career. I thought, ‘I’m so one-dimensional.’”

When Ms. Palm met Mr. Brown, she thought he seemed overly formal, with his unwrinkled clothes and impeccable manners. “He was so perfect,” she said. “I thought, ‘Come on, we’re just sailing!’”

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Program Connects At-Risk Kids With Nature

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 24, 2016

A recent alumni of the City Kids program, Tyrhee Moore, did so well with the initiative that he was selected by the National Outdoor Leadership School to take part in the first African-American ascent of Denali — an experience that he never in his wildest dreams would have thought about before his involvement with City Kids. Before his first summer camp experience, Moore noted that the closest he'd ever come to a mountain was the pile of clothes that built up on his bedroom floor. Summiting Denali has given him a new perspective on life.

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Into the Wild, Every Day

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 24, 2016

Both my boys went on NOLS trips when they were 15, spending five weeks in the Wyoming wilderness. With bears. For five weeks, I had no contact with them. For a parent, especially a nervous Nellie like me, that’s an eternity.

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Summer Sunday: The Wyoming Winds

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 23, 2016

My husband, Andy, had one week left of vacation and our objectives were simple: to get the kids outside and explore somewhere new. I’d been dreaming about Wyoming for a long time. I hadn’t been in almost 20 years and my previous trips had been limited, mainly to Jackson and Yellowstone. I wanted to go Lander, home of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and to the Wind River Range, where the peaks were lower in elevation and the fishing, supposedly epic.

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The Lander Valley Leadership Expedition Attracts Eight Inspiring Students

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 23, 2016
The Lander Valley Leadership Expedition has become a tradition for upcoming seniors at Lander Valley High School who elect to serve as 'Senior Mentors'. There is a longstanding relationship between LVHS and NOLS. Both believe in the importance of leadership and the immense impact it can have on everyone. Particularly incoming students.
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So You Want To Be An Astronaut?

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 22, 2016

Is there any child in the modern era who never dreamed of being an astronaut? It seems hard to believe. Certainly this author spent a sizable chunk of her formative years geeking out on the space shuttle and reading up on the amazing world beyond the sky. That’s why it’s such a treat to have an actual astronaut at Worldcon. Better still, she came to talk about how she got to that place in life, and how others can follow in her footsteps.

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Lessons from Patagonia’s Culture of Sharing

Posted by Kim Freitas on August 12, 2016

When it comes to bridging cultures, little things can make a big difference. For Middlebury Institute student Tom Stagg MPA ’16, one small aspect of living and working in Patagonia in southern Chile ultimately loomed large in his impressions of the experience: sharing a warm cup of yerba mate with his colleagues.

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