Most of our Outdoor Adventure Rewards outings address the "managed challenge" aspect of our mission statement in some fashion. Part of our mission statement is paraphrased like this: "Promoting Personal Awareness Through Managed Challenge."
As we all know, challenge is a part of life. Young or old, rich or poor, we are all met with constant challenge. Some challenges are easily met and defeated, while some are conquered only with enormous effort. Some drop us to our knees and shake our foundations. All of them make us more than we were.
The positive effect of challenges met and mastered by youth is well researched. Dr. Edward M. Hallowell's excellent book, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, speaks at length about the rewards of connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition in building healthy sef-esteem, moral awareness, and spiritual values. It presents a great model for any youth engagement.
We don't put heavy backpacks on kids and send them down a one-mile portage, or send them down a bike trail in a driving rain because we don't know if they can do it. We know they can. It's just that they might not know they can. The end result is an awareness of strengths they didn't know they had, and a sense of accomplishment that glows within them. There's a reason they keep coming back for more, and a reason we're not afraid to keep dishing it out.
Melissa and MaKayla stayed with us for years on countless Outdoor Adventure Rewards outings after this 48-mile cold, windy, and rainy day on the bike trail. They could have easily chosen to join their friends at the mall, but instead rafted, backpacked, paddled, and pedalled their way through their high school summers.