YMCA Hosts Wilderness Teen Leadership Program

Participants in the YMCA’s outdoor leadership program. Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

YMCA News:

All northern New Mexico youth are welcome to join an outdoor leadership program that features overnight backpacking trips.

The Family YMCA’s Boys/Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD), a wilderness-based teen leadership program is hosting several 4-night, 5-day backpacking trips in Bandelier’s backcountry. Registration forms are available at the Espanola and Los Alamos YMCA teen centers, but must be turned in to the Los Alamos Teen Center, 475 20th St.

The first trip, a GOLD (girls) trip, runs July 20-24. The BOLD (boys) trip runs July 27-31, and a Co-ed trip runs Aug. 3-7. BOLD/GOLD is a transformative teen leadership program.

Culturally diverse groups of boys and girs, ages 14-18 (entering grades 9-12) participate in physical, cognitive, and social-emotional outdoor challenges that feature adventures and teamwork. All the elements of this intentionally-designed program help teens develop friendships, learn new skills and foster a sense of belonging, which are all critical to helping them reach their full potential in life.

“These impactful experiences create true leaders and long-lasting bonds,” said Sylvan Ago, director of this YMCA program. “Youth don’t need any prior experience or outdoor gear to participate – just an open heart, an inquisitive mind, and a thirst for adventure! We will work with any interested participants to loan personal and group gear as needed.”

The program offers substantial scholarships to participants as needed but scholarships are not only need-based, enabling diverse groups to learn, cooperate and lead in turn with others different from themselves. Thanks to a significant grant from YUSA, and matching funds from the local Delle Foundation, $250-$500 scholarships are available for teens who believe this program will make a difference in their lives.

Teens and parents can apply for scholarships; the program also accepts scholarship referrals from teachers, counselors, and other adult youth workers that know of teens that could benefit from this program.

Argo said that BOLD and GOLD leaders develop confidence, community awareness, courage, emotional intelligence, and wonder. “Whether a teen is already part of leadership clubs or programs or setting off on the leadership development adventure for the first time – these trips offer an amazing opportunity to develop self-confidence, build lifelong friendships, and become a part of a community,” she said. 

BOLD/GOLD is a national program. The Y received one of 10 expansion grants around the country to start this program in New Mexico.

“We are the only BOLD/GOLD program in New Mexico, and the only one in the Rockies region. We are thrilled to grow and develop this exciting new program, and to share the impacts with teens around New Mexico,” Argo said.

One GOLD participant said, “I discovered so much about myself on this trip…I feel comfortable in my own skin now, and am confident about the coming year, and can speak more freely.”

Another BOLD/GOLD participant explained, “I realized that a trip isn’t always about the trail or the scenery, it’s about the people you go through the struggle with to get to the top…and this was a trip well spent.”

BOLD/GOLD trips are each led by 2 instructors, both with advanced wilderness first aid and first responder certification. The courses are based on YUSA curriculum developed over years to meet national standards and practices in group dynamics, teambuilding, gender-focused discussion, leadership development, environmental and ecological awareness, and more.

Instructors include: Kristine Coblentz, Tony Stidham, Brittany Beasley, Tony Hinojosa, Andrew Stocker and Lowell Reeve.

Direct questions to Los Alamos Teen Center Director Sylvan Argo at sargo@laymca.org. Call LATC staff at 505.695.7415.