“The hardest part of the trip was overcoming my fear of heights. I was nervous before but once we got in the hot air balloon and started going up, I got the hang of it and thought ‘This is so cool!’,” Maribel shares as she remembers the recent hot air balloon ride she took with AFG’s Adventure Club. The club allows the young women in our Prevention Department to experience the joys of nature through adventurous outdoor experiences and is able to do so through a generous grant from the Born and Raised Detroit Foundation. In the past, Adventure Club trips have included rustic camping, skiing, and even a trip to Costa Rica!
This year, the Adventure Club has been busy, with trips such as archery, scuba diving, tubing, and even a hot air balloon ride! Maribel is just one of the members of Adventure Club, which serves middle and high school aged participants (between the ages of 11-18) who have excellent or improved grade point averages, exhibit positive behavior, and demonstrate leadership skills. “We try to include as many middle and high school aged participants as we can, especially those who have never experienced these types of activities before.,” Gabrielle Dowdell, Prevention Youth Leadership Coordinator who works closely with the club, explains. The trips are planned with input and ideas from the club members and research done by Prevention staff members.
Although there were as many favorite trips as there are Adventure Club members, one common thread that ran through all of the recent experiences was learning how to do something new. “On the hot air balloon ride the girls helped inflate and deflate the balloon, they learned how to properly roll up the balloon, disassemble the basket, and put it away, and they even learned how the gases and gauges work,” Gabrielle explains. Rosa, another Adventure Club member, described her experience during the archery trip, “I was excited to learn something new. They showed us how to aim, how to hold the bow and arrow so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves, and let us get a lot of practice.”
Another common thread was leadership. “Developing leadership skills is a core principal in the Prevention Department. Adventure Club gives youth an opportunity to practice those skills. Many of the girls lead by example.” Gabrielle explains. “Girls who start out nervous or afraid, receive an abundance of encouragement from their peers. It is a joy to witness our girls develop as leaders in almost an instant. They are each others greatest cheerleaders.” Anayeli, who attended the scuba diving trip, agreed that having the support from her friends helped her overcome her fears, “I was so scared of drowning! But once I saw the instructor and the other girls did it I was more excited. We had so much fun playing Frisbee and other underwater games that we stayed under until our oxygen ran out!”
By being pushed outside of their comfort zone during the trips, Maribel, Rosa, Anayeli, and the rest of the Adventure Club members were able to make life long memories that they will never forget. The next adventurous activity the girls want to try? “Sky diving!” they all exclaimed with excitement in their eyes.
AFG would like to thank the countless individuals who made these trips possible through their financial support along with the generous support from the Born & Raised Detroit Foundation. See all of the photos from the recent Adventure Club trips here!