In June, Aurora Youth Options completed our first ever Outdoor Adventure Group. The group was comprised of 17 youth ranging from 11-15 years old. The group went on 3 increasingly difficult trips to Cherry Creek State Park, Red Rocks, and Rocky Mountain National Park! The goal of the program was to create awareness about the accessibility of the incredible outdoor spaces in and around the youth’s community. In addition, AYO staff wanted to utilize the outdoors as a way for youth to gain confidence in their ability to thrive outside of their comfort zone with a diverse group of individuals.
At Cherry Creek State Park the day began with team-building activities and games. The group was forced to work together, utilizing communication and trust to accomplish their goals. Once we had worked up a sweat playing games, the youth completed a mindfulness activity of journaling by the reservoir. After everyone had spent some time reflecting, the staff and youth had a beach day for the ages! Some of the youth chose to swim, while others played beach games and built sandcastles. We ended the afternoon with a tent set-up competition and all the staff were thrilled with how well the students worked together!
Our next adventure was to the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison. The youth completed a scavenger hunt in the park’s museum before exploring the one of a kind amphitheater. After some dancing in the rain and yummy sandwiches, the group set off on the trading post loop trail. The youth completed the loop but not without a few stops to look at the wildflowers and of course some climbing on the unique rock structures along the trail!
The BIG FINALE was our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park! Everyone woke up bright and early as we wanted to make the most of our day in the park. Upon arriving, the group marveled at the jagged snow-capped peaks and vast valleys. On our first hike we saw Alberta Falls, an amazing waterfall in the heart of the park. The students even learned how to filter their own water straight from the top of the waterfall! The group easily could have stayed there all day but there was more to see, so off we went to Bear Lake. After a short hike we arrived to the lake situated 10,000 feet above sea level. We all took our time as we walked the entirety of the lake before catching the shuttle to our final destination. The group ended the day by driving the Trail Ridge Road up to 12,000 feet. We were greeted by panoramic views and 3 elk grazing on the grass. It was an experience, every staff member and youth will be sure to remember!