When showing up to a program, I’m always full of excitement! Admittedly, I didn’t have a lot of hope to be meeting with a large group this very rainy, chilled, typical west coast spring kind of Friday morning. Was I ever wonderfully surprised when I came to the meeting location to find a large and excited group of youth ready for whatever the day had in store. We gathered, gave thanks for the land we were meeting on and learned about which animal everyone would shrink down, should they have the powers, and keep in their jacket pocket. This set the tone for the rest of our time together; encouraging curiosity and playfulness is something we love to do at Power To Be. As we hiked along the sea wall in Stanley Park, we chatted about and array of things, from the challenges they’ve faced in their lives to what the ultimate best hip hop song is.

After reaching our destination we invited the youth to participate in a self-reflection activity: nature sculptures. Following the practices of leave-no-trace, the youth were challenged to look inward, what makes them who they are, what qualities they possess, what barriers have they faced, and how did they overcome them. There were a few participants that immediately connected with the activity and set out, others who were hesitant but after a few minutes set off to make theirs and a couple who chose to not make anything. At Power To Be we have a ‘challenge by choice’ approach. This activity asked youth to really reflect and look inward. Sometimes this can be too much for someone, (and they are the expert in where they’re at mentally. Perhaps they’re not in a healthy head space that day), so if they don’t want to share with the group they are still gaining the knowledge and skills to participate when and how it feels right for them.

After fifteen minutes the youth were offered the opportunity to share their creation. I was blown away by the deep reflections. One youth noted that they felt like they are holding everything up, balancing it all on their back like the sticks they compiled. It might have looked like it was going to topple over at any minute but its base was strong. One noted that outwardly there was beauty, like a rose, but that there are also thorns and that they have had to be protective of themselves and have developed a tough exterior as a result.

As we circled back to our starting point we continued our debate about the ultimate song, spoke about skunk cabbage and everything in between. The rain continued to ebb and flow, symbolically like the paths they have walked before. Like many of our programs, it was a day full of connection, creativity, and reflection.


This blog was written by Alli, Program Adventures Lead in Vancouver. With the mountains in her backyard and the ocean in the front Alli is happy to call Vancouver home. She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to feel first-hand the sense of connection that nature provides.