Dare to Adventure will expand outdoor access to Detroit-area youth

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The American Youth Foundation will offer a new program in August 2023 that will introduce first-time campers from the Detroit area to Miniwanca and summer camp.

The Dare to Adventure program, which will take place Aug. 8 to 11, will be a four-day outdoor educational experience for youth entering grades 7 and 8 from the Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan areas. Registration begins soon.

Director of Community Life, Diversity, and Inclusion Ambrean Ford said Dare to Adventure aims to provide more equitable access to the outdoors and AYF programs by offering a low cost, mini-camp experience. Miniwanca staff and Mulcahy Fellows, seasonal AYF staff who hold similar backgrounds and identities to the campers, will lead traditional AYF activities designed to introduce youth to the outdoors and experience living joyfully in nature.

“The AYF is actively trying to find more ways to provide equitable access to the outdoors to more families each year,” Ford said. “Historically, systemic barriers in the U.S. such as discrimination, cost, and location have prevented people of color from accessing nature and nature-based education. Dare to Adventure programming is created with this in mind.”

To participate in Dare to Adventure, a camper must never have attended summer camp and must hold at least one historically marginalized identity (such as Black/African American, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, or others). Also, their primary caregiver’s household income must be at or below the living wage for Wayne County. Families will pay a one-time $10 registration fee.

“Offering this program for only a $10 fee allows us to bring first-time participants to our camps and show them what positive experiences in nature can do for their lives,” Ford said. “Not all families have the extra funds to send their kids to our summer camp programs, and it’s important we find new ways to make sure those kids still get these experiences.”

Campers will participate in traditional camp activities such as swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, high ropes and rock-climbing courses, outdoor cooking and camping skills, and lots of fun, active games. They will also enjoy quieter moments of reflection and discussion about their values and what access to the outdoors means to them.

Ford said the Mulcahy Fellows created the foundation for Dare to Adventure in spring 2022.

“The foundation for the program was created during the first Mulcahy Fellow summer retreat in 2022,” Ford said. “There we decided how we would provide a brave space for the participants to challenge themselves. During the program, they will be present as direct support for participants each day.”

Ford encouraged anyone curious to learn more about Dare to Adventure to email her directly at aford@ayf.com. “More than anything, we want Dare to Adventure participants to feel the joy that comes from spending time in the AYF community,” she said.