Bend Park and Recreation District is wrapping up their 4th year of the Discover the Outdoors Camp aka Aventuras al Aire Libre. This summer, the program reached 79 participants ages 11-15 years old, through 7 – 1-week programs. The goal of the program is connect youth who have barriers to accessing Bend Park and Recreation District programs to impactful outdoor opportunities. The participants were 95% Latino and 5% mixed demographics. Recruitment and enrollment for the program was supported by Family Access Network (FAN) Advocates in middle schools, and also through door-to-door canvassing at targeted housing complexes by BPRD staff.
The program took participants to public lands sites across Central Oregon, exploring areas such as Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Ochoco National Forest, Tumalo Falls, and multiple sections of the Deschutes River. Over the week, participants got to experience many new opportunities, including hiking in Obsidian Flows of Newberry National Monument, swimming in the Deschutes River, exploring the Cascade Lakes, visiting Dee Wright Observatory, cave exploration at Lava Lands, and stream studies in Tumalo Creek. To support participants with transportation barriers, the program picked up participants at their housing complexes, or locations near their homes. Bend Park and Recreation District also worked to ensure that staff working on recruitment, registration, planning, and leading the programs were Spanish-speaking, to best support Latinx families.
Discover the Outdoor was supported, in part, by a YES grant from the Children’s Forest. Each year, the Children’s Forest invites community organizations to apply to host small projects that connect historically underrepresented communities to the outdoors. Bend Parks and Recreation District knows that there are segments of the Bend community who don’t regularly participate in recreation activities due to a variety of barriers. With the help of the YES grant, BPRD was able to build and create more connections with underserved and Latinx youth in the community, and expose them to the many public lands in and around Bend!
Thank you to Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests for supporting the YES program with the Children’s Forest.