by Kevan Coyle, Volunteer Lead

Last summer, Power To Be welcomed Elyse Rutledge, a practicum student from Vancouver Island University’s Educational Assistant and Community Support Program. Inspired by high school experiences that demonstrated how leaders and nature can work together to nurture social connection and personal wellness, Elyse chose to do her practicum at Power To Be to learn how she can help make outdoor experiences more accessible for everyone. We invited Elyse to reflect on her time delivering youth programs alongside our staff and how it has impacted her learning journey.

Elyse arrived at Power To Be after having led climbing camps for youth at Boulders Climbing Gym and completing her first practicum at an elementary school where she learned to create a supportive learning environment for children who required educational assistance. From the beginning, Elyse’s skill and experience working with children shone through. Our Program Facilitator, Mitch, comments, “Elyse came to Power To Be like a whirlwind! She is full to the brim with playful energy which was felt by everyone. She was quick to build meaningful connections which resulted in so many wonderful experiences and moments of growth for staff and participants.”

A notable way that Elyse supported Power To Be in her practicum was as a facilitator in our Ferns and Salal camps. During these programs, Elyse worked alongside one of our Program Facilitators, Emm, who says, “Having Elyse as a member of the program team over the Salal and Ferns camps was fantastic. Her energy and enthusiasm would never fail to engage the participants and many of the staff members that got the chance to work with her. She’s a natural carer, rises to any challenge, and brings fun and creativity to programs. An all-round legend!”

Hikes, ocean walks, climbing, paddleboarding, and cold plunges are activities that help Elyse step back from her day-to-day life and put everything into perspective. In reflecting on her favourite moments at Power To Be, Elyse recalls a recurring experience she had under a willow tree during canoe programs. She remembers, “we would often stop in a neat little cove that has a beautiful willow tree that you can paddle underneath. It was so wonderful to experience the calmness that this brought not only to myself, but also to the participants in the boat. As we would sit there, listening to the sounds that surrounded us and taking in the beautiful setting, you could sense a wave of calmness among everyone on the boat. It reminded me of the incredible impact that nature can have on us, even from simply taking a minute or two to just observe and join its calmness.”

When asked about her practicum experience at Power To Be, Elyse says, “All of the staff were incredibly helpful, kind and inclusive the moment I walked into the building! I feel so fortunate that I landed this opportunity to do my practicum placement at Power To Be. Before and after every program, the staff would connect to go over the day’s plans, and to debrief later to hear everyone’s thoughts and input. They have created such an inviting environment, and I always felt heard and respected. It was amazing to be a part of such a great team, and I learned so much from the participants, leaders and staff along the way. I always left Power To Be’s facility in a better mood than when I got there.”

Not only has Elyse made amazing contributions as a practicum student, but she continues to meaningfully impact the lives of participants and our team members as a volunteer. She is teaching climbing skills to families in our Learn To Climb program, and supporting kids in our weekly Ferns program! Thank you for your commitment and contributions Elyse! We are grateful for your support!

This blog was written by Kevan Coyle, Power To Be’s Volunteer Lead.