Boys & Girls Club Program Director Louie Grill cheers on youth after a great climb to the top during a climbing session hosted by Peak 7 Adventures. • Courtesy Photo
Boys & Girls Club Program Director Louie Grill cheers on youth after a great climb to the top during a climbing session hosted by Peak 7 Adventures. • Courtesy Photo

Diversity in our community can be celebrated inside and outside of city limits. Peak 7 Adventures, an outdoor adventure non-profit in Seattle, provides opportunities for underprivileged youth to realize in themselves a greater potential through challenging yet rewarding wilderness excursions. We develop programs for preteens and teens regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or sexuality, and are looking to expand the role of diversity in outdoor recreation by inviting you to get involved. Having more diverse role models would enhance the impact these outdoor adventures have on our young participants.

Peak 7 exists to provide outdoor excursions that engage youth spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. These experiences are analogous to the adversities these youth face every day—conquering a mountain peak symbolizes conquering struggles in their lives—and enables them to overcome their perceived limits. These programs are made possible by the involvement of community members, and individual and corporate sponsors. As the development manager, it’s incredible to see how the community can impact the lives of these young people forever simply by choosing to become involved.

Many of the youth served by Peak 7 Adventures come from environments in which they receive little encouragement and attention, meaning most have little reason to trust others. We use experiences that seem intimidating, like rock climbing, and encourage youth to challenge themselves. By beginning to believe in themselves and their ability to accomplish more than they thought possible, we see young people’s perspective change as they become more hopeful about the difficulties they face at home.

When taking our participants outside their comfort zone, we see an immeasurable impact as they discover their own skills and abilities. On all of our trips, which include whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountaineering, snowshoeing, and winter camping, participants develop trust and understand the importance of working as a team to accomplish a goal. They learn that others can and at times need to be trusted, regardless of what they look like or who they are.

Serving those with different backgrounds provides an opportunity to have a more profound appreciation for the diversity around us. It fosters empathy and understanding.

The teenage years are full of changes, and young people need support as they find their way. In a nationwide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youth aged 13 to 24 reported the following:

• One out of three felt sad or hopeless every day for two or more weeks and stopped doing some usual activities.

• One out of five have seriously considered attempting suicide.

• One out of five have been bullied on school property.

Peak 7 Adventures wants youth to realize they don’t have to go through life’s difficulties alone. We are here to help young people develop self-confidence and show them there are people who genuinely care about them and their future.

Louie Grill, a partner of Peak 7 Adventures and program manager for the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center of Federal Way, says being involved is one of the best things you can do to help teens in Seattle communities: “As a human being, you don’t realize the potential of how you can really feel when you actually help out other people. When you start helping out others without wanting anything back from it, something in your soul gets lightened up.”

We need your help! We invite you to get involved in the community to support the diversity of our young people. If you want to learn more about how you can make an impact, contact me for more information at [email protected].

Ryan Rodin is a Contributor and Development Manager for Peak 7 Adventures.

For more opinions, click here

Previous articleAnnouncement: Community Memorial for Henry Miyatake
Next articleNicky Sa-eun Schildkraut: To never know is a different kind of loss