The mission of Project Great Outdoors is to guide youth towards broader perspectives and self-discovery through adventures in the great outdoors.
Our mission (and therefore its articulation as a statement) is important enough to be worth a few additional words. We want all volunteers and supporters of Project GO to understand our ultimate motivation, and how the decisions that we make and actions that we take serve the mission.
The directive to guide youth is a reflection of our belief in the efficacy of experiential education. Rather than telling, reading or preaching, we’re inviting young people to EXPERIENCE. By guiding young people, we are allowing them to learn of their own volition, by direct experience, and with the help of guided reflection. We place special emphasis on the reflection aspect, as this is what helps lessons learned on the river transfer to regular life.
The visceral outcomes our program strives towards fall into two categories. Self-discovery includes intrapersonal outcomes like improved self-confidence, increased willingness to take risks, enhanced leadership, increased logical thinking and greater reflective thinking. Broader perspectives include interpersonal outcomes like enhanced cooperation, more effective communication, greater trust in others, increased sharing of decision making, new ways to resolve conflicts, improved problem solving and enhanced leadership.
There are a number of reasons that we’ve chosen the great outdoors as the venue for our pursuits. New environments create a contrast with the familiar, allowing young people to see old behavior patterns in a new light, and to notice behavior patterns that may have been overlooked in familiar environments. Unfamiliar environments may allow young people to “try on” new behaviors in an environment without the fears or limitations found in their regular environment. Additionally, unfamiliar environments act as an equalizer. placing learners on a par with one another. As no one has experience in the outdoors, no one is seen as the expert. So preexisting hierarchies may be put aside, allowing people to think for themselves.
Finally, we believe in the value of adventure. Adventure involves both risk and challenge, each of which, if at an appropriate level, have been shown to increase the longevity of experiential learning, and the transference of lessons gleaned.
Our vision is a world in which no young person is denied the opportunity to learn through adventure in the great outdoors.
There are many programs available to those with the means to pay for them. Project GO works towards our vision by providing programs to those who cannot afford them. Frequently, these are the young people most in need of what the great outdoors has to offer!