“I was scared.”
“Did you get pretty far up?”
“Are you proud of yourself for trying?”
“I’m proud of you, too.”
Jakiyah, 11, talks with OAC leader, Susan, about making big moves this past Saturday. She and five other Littles got the opportunity to try something brand new on the OAC’s second excursion of the year: rock climbing at nearby Hanging Rock.
“We need some hot weather… my toes are numb,” says Jakiyah.
While it was a cold day in the shade next to the rock, OAC leaders were intent on having an awesome outdoor climbing experience. What they got was a great climbing area, instruction, quality climbing time, and some expertly chosen snacks -”the soup was on point, it made everything better with the cold,” Susan says.
Olivia’s Big, Riley, shares some advice on climbing: “try to trust the equipment and the person belaying, and as long as you’re having fun and pushing yourself, it’s a good day.”
If the first two outings are anything to go on, not only are the kids having a great introduction to adventure in the outdoors, but their Bigs and the OAC leaders are also getting a lot out of the mentoring experience. “They are an awesome, positive group,” Susan says.
Beth, Jakiyah’s Big, says her favorite part of the day was “Seeing Jakiyah scurry up those rocks, I know she was freaked out to do it, but she did it. She was really fast – that was awesome.” And, when asked, Riley, says she’s most looking forward to “watching all the kids get involved in the outdoors and seeing them grow as the year goes on!”
Most experienced outdoorsmen and women can attest that venturing in the outdoors with others creates meaningful relationships- for many its one of the biggest reasons they choose the outdoors. We are fortunate enough to see some of these relationships starting to take shape between Bigs and Littles, as well as the club as a whole.
To commemorate each outing, LIttles are crafting a colorful flag with pictures and stories. Each will be attached to the last in what will be a chain of 12 flags by the end of the year. We hope that by its completion, their bonds to each other will be as colorful and full of stories as the flags.
As for next month, Olivia, Little, is “pretty excited for caving!”
Follow along on the Outdoor Adventure Club Blog as we post an update following each outing.
To catch more of the action, follow PLAY Roanoke on Instagram and keep an eye out for our monthly story takeovers.
To participate in the conversation surrounding the OAC and outdoor mentorship in our community, join the Friends of the Roanoke Outdoor Adventure Club Facebook group!
For those hearing about the OAC for the first time, here’s a brief timeline of the how it came to be:
- In 2017, Roanoke Outside in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) created the Outdoor Explorers Program for underserved youth aged 8-10. The program pairs together each youth (referred to as a Little) with a Big Brother or Sister (referred to as a Big). It has been an awesome success and the OAC became the next logical step for serving youth aged 11-13.
- Then, Roanoke Parks and Recreation joined the partnership, and combined efforts to win grants for the program from Keen and The North Face ($5,000 and $8,000, respectively.)
- On September 28 of this year, members of the OAC met for the first time in the Market Square for a free screening of An American Ascent, a film about the first All-African American team to hike Denali, North America’s tallest peak. That night, they also met and ate dinner with Scott Briscoe, one of the mountaineers in the film. Fittingly, Mr. Briscoe was also a Little with BBBS in his youth.
By providing 12 months of outdoor adventures, one-on-one mentorship and support, as well as transportation, instruction, and proper gear, the OAC is eliminating all barriers to the outdoors for underrepresented youth in Roanoke.