It’s the third year of the Waypoint Adventure Leaders-In-Training program. Young adults with disabilities are engaging again in 2019 with real-life challenges within a supportive environment and learning goal-setting and attainment skills. This is an ENERGETIC crew and we’ve loved watching them grow already. These young leaders are going to be contributing members of their communities!
The High Ropes Course started it all off in May. Each LIT had to decide how high they wanted to swing on the Giant Swing and rose to the challenge. All while their teammates pulled them up! Everyone started meaningful friendships off on the right foot through a shared experience together.
In June, we hit the trails of Ward Reservation in Andover practicing navigation and learning water-purification skills to prepare for the September backpacking trip. We started Life Stories too, where a few people in the group share their Life Story over lunch and we take turns over the course of the series. At the end of each Life Story, we have a call and response. Group: “We hear you”; Story Teller: “I am heard”; Story Teller: “Do you accept me?”; Group: “You Belong Here!”
In July at Harold Parker State Forest, we actually had to move our adventure up a few hours and cut it short due to the 100 degree heat advisory! What a hot July! But this crew toughed it out, learned all about kayaking in small groups and then had to share what they had learned with the big group and/or their paddle partner. This brought out real-life scenarios of needing each other. And on top of that, everyone was given the challenge of attempting the wet exit! With the hot day, several people took that challenge and flipped their boat over and then did a on-the-water re-entry!
In August, the LITs REALLY had to put their leadership to the test when young kids from the community came to learn kayaking from them! We did a quick refresher in the morning and then after lunch, everyone had a job to do or a skill to teach. Once everyone was ready on land, we all went for a paddle on the Charles River in Waltham with the kids in the tandem kayaks.
In September, we had our big backpacking trip in the White Mountains. This is no ordinary camping trip! Everyone comes to a Pre-Trip Meeting to go over the packing list and what to expect and then Saturday morning, bright and early, everyone arrives and gets a BIG backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and has to take group gear and tent pieces and fit it all in their bag. We drove up to Lincoln Woods in Lincoln, NH near Loon Mountain and hiked back to the Franconia Brook tentsites to set up camp, getting caught in a brief rain shower right at the end. We cooked dinner on camp stoves, purified water from the river, told the remaining Life Stories and slept in tents. It was the first of this type of experience for many in the group! We ended with a “solo” journaling time by the river the next morning and then hiked out and drove home. What a bonding experience for everyone!
And to end it all in October, we heard from 3 adults in the community with disabilities through a panel discussion talking about what life has been like for them as they’ve worked through the in’s and out’s of transitioning into adulthood. These 3 people, Kamisha Heriveaux, Melissa Bradley, and Zach Trickett have a lot of experience when it comes to navigating employment, living situations, social situations and friendships and had good advice to share with our LITs. Parents and siblings came too and afterwards, everyone got a chance to take on one last challenge and go rock climbing at Central Rock Gym in Watertown! One of the LITs, Harry, has some extensive rock climbing experience so he got to lead the group in learning some basics about equipment and how to use it correctly to keep you safe.