The National Center for Education Statistics states that, approximately 4.1 million students entered in to the public high school system this year; and based on last years statistics, only a staggering 3 million students will graduate. So where are the other 1 million students going to? Unfortunately, and regardless of stereotypes, they are entering into a life of melancholy. According to the National Association of Self-Esteem, statistics validate that one-fifth of all 8th graders in the U.S. are considered to be at high risk of school failure. In fact, “approximately 30% of our youth drop out and fail to complete high school. (Smith 2010.) This is causing the students to be cornered and their options for careers and a bright future are immediately limited. Students are forced into remedial jobs that give them no goals, no drive, and no desire to become anything greater. And the power of lethargy and apathy are no less weak, than the authority figures around them that they have learned to resent over the years. Clearly, the need for aid is evident, but with teens and young adults who do not wish to hear advice from anyone, especially authority figures, aid seems difficult to reach. Yet, despite the odds, statistics, and pre-suppositions, a movement has persevered and is growing rapidly. A movement focused on creating and encouraging an environment of equals, the great outdoors. There are many reasons why the vast forests and plains we call the wilderness have been called “the great equalizer”, however in this context, it provides an environment for these youth in which they can gather together with peers and create a personal experience by which no person or authority figure could say they are doing wrong. After all, who’s to say what you see in the stars at night is more wrong or right than what the person lying next to you claims?
Anchors O.A. takes the approach of holistic healing and development for our participants. The three concepts below exemplify our approach to fortifying our participants lives through spiritual, mental, and physical "Anchoring".
First, we wish to focus on a dream we have to provide young adults with an immersive and well rounded action sports experience. We had the privilege growing up to receive coaching in various different action sports disciplines as well as stay in immersive camps to improve skills. However, many of our most fond memories were made during the times between riding, the times in which our counselors were instilling values that we had no idea were being instilled until we take time to look back at it.
Moreover, the concept of action sports therapy is a growing field of study, which could be especially impactful for what some would consider “at risk youth”.(Baker 2002.) The term “at risk youth” has always been bothersome to me because it immediately begs the question, “at risk of what?” and “why are they so much more at risk than anyone else?”. Although many would pose answers for these questions, it’s not matter of whether or not they are at a statistically higher risk, by labeling them this, it only helps to further the idea in others minds, as well as theirs.
A specific benefit that an immersive action sports camp would create is the opportunity to experience a high level of adrenaline and risk within a controlled setting. These two features are what draw most people to the action sports arena. High-risk sports are and remain attractive to individuals because they meet these criteria. They (1) are freely engaged as an end in themselves, (2) present a context that tests abilities, and (3) provide the potential for imaginative and heightened experience. Moreover, high-risk sports provide these opportunities to virtually all participants because these activities are not absolute in their risk and degrees of difficulty, and thus can be engaged by individuals in a manner that approximates their respective skill levels. (Celsi 1992.)
I intend to create a facility by which youth of any background, socioeconomic status, or ability can come together and have the same experience. If a program can be created that insures each participant a similar experience, regardless of any factor other than being a kid, than the program has succeeded. When we say “same” experience it does not mean that when an inexperienced or new rider wishes to come to camp and learn, that he is forced to ride with, and be coached at the same degree as another rider attending who is much more adept. What a “similar” experience means is that when a rider comes to learn, he leaves satisfied with his new level of skill and was able to achieve the same level of adrenaline and excitement based on what is comfortable to him or her.
Additionally, the concept of an “immersive” action sports camp implies that it offers more than just one discipline. We plan to offer pavement sports, snow sports, water sports, and dirt sports. This will allow each student to explore new disciplines as well as experience which disciplines they excel at more. Again, when dealing with a diverse group of kids based on ability and background, a diverse range of outlets and opportunities must be provided to insure that “flow” (the concept of matching activity challenge to skill level) is achieved. (Snyder 2002.)
As we stated, our intention is to provide these youth with moral and character strengthening first, and then optimize their physical skills second. Many of these youth struggle with identity due to being commonly associated as a lower socioeconomic status. A huge disconnect occurs between the majority of the action sports community and lower economic classes. This is because, of course, these sorts of sports are not cheap. Which begs the obvious question as to why these sports, which clearly have huge benefits for youth, are not being made more readily available for all, regardless of financial ability.