One of the beloved programs Banyan Community offers youth is an overnight summer camp experience outside of the city. Banyan staff accompany youth on two different overnight adventures: a middle school outing and an elementary youth outing.

This middle school outing was a two-night adventure for 15 youth at Osprey Wilds Learning Center, just an hour and a half north of the cities. Osprey Wilds has provided outdoor educational programs since 1971 and they are committed to providing “lifelong learning experiences to people of all ages, including programming in natural history and science, team-building, adventure/challenge, wildlife, energy, outdoor skills and human history.” The 780-acre property is unique and encompasses a variety of habitats and ecosystems. Banyan middle school youth spent three days at Osprey Wilds, learning about the traditional practice of quillwork and beading, while engaging in activities like rock climbing, archery, and high ropes courses.

This Banyan middle school summer camp trip was one of encouragement and care. Youth began the trip with some apprehension about being out in nature for an entire weekend. Leaving the city to encounter ticks, mosquitos, and deal with general dirtness was a concern for some of our youth, who actively complained at first. Yet, on the second day as we approached quillwork, climbing, and high ropes, our youth began relying on a call-and-response. As a Banyan camper climbed a rock wall, another youth called out (a bit jokingly at first), “Never back down and never what?” Prompting laughter from one of the youth on the wall who then called back, “Never give up!” This became the go-to throughout the whole day as our youth pushed themselves physically, but more importantly, pushed their confidence, trying things that made them feel scared at first. With that call-and-response, our youth kept trying, pressing on through the scary stuff to have fun and grow. And each time a youth returned to the group, the rest would celebrate with a cheer to “Never give up!”

Two of Banyan Community’s youth-centered goals are to

  • Provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills, engage in positive relationships with peers and adults, and have new experiences.
  • Create an environment of support around youth, through the encouragement and investment of the adults in the community.

This middle school weekend away beautifully checked all the boxes. Youth experienced many new things, built self-confidence, and engaged in encouraging positive relationships with their peers along with the Banyan staff who accompanied them. Thank you for investing in Banyan Community to ensure these great memories are made.