This week, we would like to highlight a new ITA initiative. As we know, one of the big pushes nationwide is to get America’s youth outside and away from the electronics and sedentary lifestyles. ITA has answered that call by starting our Youth Program for 14 to 18 year olds. With this program, we aim to get our youth into the backcountry to learn new skills for work, enjoyment and overall life. The projects are set in Idaho’s public lands and under the guidance of adult counselors and crew leaders. Here, internet and social media are not available so the focus is the crew, camp life and teamwork.
Electronic entertainment is replaced with campfire talks in the evening after dinner and dishes are completed. The morning starts with getting out of the sleeping bags around 6:30 to help with breakfast chores. After breakfast, lunches are made and packed up, dishes and camp cleanup is completed, tools are gathered and the crew heads out for the day’s work on the trail. The project is lead by an ITA crew leader and school counselors who ensure a safe and friendly environment for the crew. The youth learn to use traditional trail maintenance tools such as crosscut saws, Pulaskis, shovels, McLeods and axes.
Learning how to safely work as a team and in a group is a priority. Discussions and plans are made to accomplish the tasks. Crew members learn that sometimes their idea is chosen and sometimes it’s not and that both outcomes are ok. When the day’s project is completed, the crew returns to camp to cleanup, put the tools away and prepare dinner. After dinner and dishes, the crew settles into the evening’s Seeds Program. These are discussions on Geology, Biology or other topics are led by the counselors.
During this week, the youth are responsible for completing assigned chores and tasks. They enhance their ability to live within and contribute to a small community in which rules are made and followed for the safety and wellbeing of all. We find that this is a wonderful place for people of this age, and all ages, to build camaraderie, trust and friendships.
“This experience was one that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. My experience was different from the others on the trip because I was the only girl on a nine-person trail-crew. I was wracked with nerves about being the only girl surrounded by new people. However one of the great parts of the trip was the expectation of each member. I was expected to complete the same duties and responsibilities as the boys instead of getting stuck with jobs that weren’t as physically demanding. This mentality of treating everyone as equals made the trip so enjoyable. I was respected by everyone and made friends with all of the guys, instead of being alienated as the only female member of the team. The relationships and memories that I formed on this trip will last a lifetime.”
Gracie – 2019 Youth Program crew member
Your membership dollars go towards funding this and all of our programs.
Thank you for your work in 2019! Please join us for 2020 today!