One of the most amazing things at Power To Be is the feedback we receive from our community members on how our programs and staff have been a positive influence in their lives. We received this lovely letter from the mother of a Wilderness School participant in which she expressed thanks for the learning, growth, and leadership her son attained while going through this 3-year program. Power To Be‘s programs focus on removing barriers to nature, and we can’t help but smile when these outdoor experiences lead to such a profound impact on our participants.

*The names in this letter have been changed for privacy*

When David applied for Wilderness School I wasn’t sure he met the criteria in terms of need. He was doing okay, but he wasn’t really engaging in the world around him, or connecting with other people. A higher needs older sibling was requiring much of our time and energy and it felt a bit like David was falling through the cracks. He needed his own space to thrive. Thank you for giving him that space and opportunity. The challenges, experiences, and relationships that Wilderness School brought to David’s life have shifted his perspective and his awareness of the world and the people around him.

It has been fun to watch David learn new skills and incorporate them into daily life. While camping last summer I asked him if he needed an extra layer before going for a hike. “Be bold, start cold,” he told me, a direct quote from a Wilderness School leader. While outside on a recent cold evening, he gave me multiple tips on how to maintain warmth in my extremities. First Aid training, knots, campfires, kayaking, knife skills, shelter building, show shoeing, surfing, packing for a trip, food prep, and more all-round out the practical skills learned. Helpful stuff! But perhaps even more useful are the interpersonal and individual skills that David will carry with him for a lifetime – teamwork, communication, expressing gratitude, self-reflection, appreciation for the natural world and the land we are on, relationship building, empathy, perseverance. The example set by the Wilderness School staff on each trip and gathering has made a lasting impact.

David’s increased confidence and maturity have become evident in his academic performance, his part-time work, his commitment to health and fitness, his post-secondary planning, and his contributions at home. He is a solid kid and is a genuine joy to have around. I truly believe Wilderness School has played a critical role in David’s development into the well-rounded individual that he is today.

I want to offer an extra massive thank you and high five to Sylvia, Michelle, Clinton, Clay, Mike, and all of the other staff who joined any of the adventures that David was on. He always came home with a big smile and lots of great stories to share. Your genuine passion for what you do is abundantly evident. Thank you for sharing your love of nature with all the participants you work with. And thank you for taking the time to get to know David, and for appreciating and nurturing his fun personality. He is a better person for having had this amazing experience, and I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to give back to Wilderness School as a volunteer mentor in the months and years ahead. I have so much gratitude for Power to Be, for the Wilderness School program, and for each staff member and volunteer who works so hard to make every experience special and meaningful. Thank you.