This week I was reminded of the exhilarating feeling of doing something new and scary for the first time. I took the teens on our first summer field trip to Trapper John’s in Grove City to go canoeing and kayaking. My prayers to the weather gods to spare us from a thunderstorm were answered, and we were able to spend the afternoon in the sun floating down Big Darby Creek. The teens had never been canoeing before. I got into a canoe with one of the girls, and shortly into the trip we got stuck on some rocks in a shallow area. Together we worked together to navigate out, as she screamed and lamented our inevitable demise (unlikely considering we were in two feet of water and had life jackets). After we got out she laughed and recounted our adventure to the others. Later, she switched with someone else to navigate a kayak on her own, teaching herself how to steer and problem solving when she got stuck.
One of my goals for the summer is to expose the teens to diverse experiences, and it felt good to see them do so well on our first trip. Watching the teens push their boundaries has led me to reflect on how often I force myself out of my comfort zone in my personal and professional life. During our learning session last week some of our speakers discussed how they worked in roles where they had no background and experience, requiring them to ask for help and grow quickly. In trying to build up the programming down at Southpoint I’m trying a bunch of different strategies and projects to engage the teens who haven’t participated in the past. Some will be successful, others will fail. I’m learning to embrace the art of taking away what you can from your failures, and keeping it moving.
This week I had lunch with the Clinical Director at Concord Counseling. Her spirit and energy reminds me why I decided to pursue my Masters in Social Work, and we had a great discussion about how lasting change for the teenagers at Southpoint will require them taking a leadership role there. In the coming weeks, I’ll be starting to work on engaging the teens to help me redesign a place for them down in their community center.