Two-week summer immersion programs in iconic wilderness areas such as Yosemite and Olympic National Parks, which include seven days of guided, place-based field education, as well as an intensive six-day extended wilderness backpacking or sea kayaking adventure led by trained volunteers. Students participate in wilderness recreation experiences including hiking, paddling, camping, rock climbing, and team building, and they learn essential camping skills such as how to use and care for their gear, survival skills, and “Leave No Trace” principles. Participants also learn about the history of the area, engage in hands-on forest ecology and carbon lessons, and have several opportunities to reflect upon and share their experience. Through these experiences, students establish a strong connection with nature, develop relationships with mature, stable adults outside of the family structure, and emerge from the program with a stronger sense of the wider world and their ability to function effectively within it, as well as renewed drive to succeed against all odds.
Weekend workshops and overnight camping trips, which are led by staff, teachers and volunteers, include environmental service projects, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, biking and fishing in the national forests and park areas near Houston such as Huntsville and Brazos Bend State Parks. These activities are intended to improve confidence, self-reliance, and leadership skills while giving the students a preview of the challenges they will encounter during the summer program.
Weekly after-school clubs,
which are hosted at a majority of our Houston school partners. Club lessons, led by TWP staff, focus on environmental conservation and education, outdoor themes and skills, as well as leadership development. Lessons create opportunity to develop and strengthen communication skills, teamwork, and critical thinking through a focused curriculum, and introduce concepts of wilderness education, camping skills, conservation and environmental awareness.
Junior Leaders Program TWP is now structuring its program as a multi-year experience which engages students throughout their high school years. High-achieving students who excel in the traditional summer trips are invited to apply for TWP’s Junior Leaders program (JLP). The year-round experience is comprised of monthly programming that challenges student alumni to build upon the critical character traits they’ve already developed as a result of having participated in TWP’s traditional programming. They focus on team building, college and career readiness, community service, communications skills, problem solving, and ethical behavior. Monthly experiences may include: outdoor service projects, mixed martial arts, team-building activities, etiquette courses, overnight outdoor leadership training as well as career fairs that teach financial literacy and connect students with local companies.
JLP meetings and activities are led by program managers, who closely mentor each student and seek out a variety of avenues for meaningful growth. Through partnerships with like-minded organizations, students are matched with additional high-impact opportunities including but not limited to: nominations to The Posse Foundation (if selected, Posse scholars receive full college tuition for four years), summer and year-round employment, other college scholarships, international travel, scholarships for extended wilderness experiences, and paid internships.
JLP culminates with a 14-day sea kayaking and camping experience during which students receive paddling orientation and safety instruction, engage in camp chores, and participate in team-building exercises that require them to rely heavily on the other members of their team to overcome significant challenges. They also have the opportunity to explore sea caves, old growth forests, and waterfalls. Additionally, participants engage in exercises which help them identify and practice their own personal leadership style as well as attend an outdoor career academy where they interact with outdoor education, preservation, and conservation professionals.