On August 18, 2008 a select group of 21 extremely blessed Boys & Girls Club members from Lakewood, Tacoma, Spanaway, and the West Sound set out on a five day adventure into Yellowstone National Park. This all expenses paid trip was made possible through anonymous donors who wanted to share this experience with kids who may otherwise never have had the opportunity to go.
There were a few criteria used in selecting which children would be allowed to go on the trip. For instance candidates had to have shown outstanding behavior for the past year, attended the Club regularly, and shown interest in embarking on the voyage. Maria Steininger, Director of Food Services for the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound said, “Some of the kids have never experienced a plane ride, so their Yellowstone Adventure started when we arrived at SeaTac.”
The first morning of their trip was spent on an airplane flying to their long awaited destination. Upon arrival at the Lamar Valley Buffalo Ranch everyone received cabin assignments, and from there it was off to dinner. The next four days of their adventure were carefully planned out, as to not miss a single sight! Their mornings were spent wildlife watching through binoculars, and learning about the ecology and behaviors of many different animals that reside at Yellowstone. Classroom activities also took place in the middle of the day to discuss the different areas of interest that everyone had encountered along the way. The rest of their days were filled with excursions through places such as the Geyser Basin, learning about the dynamics of the Yellowstone Volcano, and the importance of preserving these fragile areas. They even had the opportunity to create their own paintings of the Grand Canyon, after learning about the geological forces that shaped it.
Throughout their entire trip everyone kept journals of what they saw, heard, learned, and experienced first hand. Now the children can return home to their local Clubs and share their knowledge with all of the other kids. It is important for them to pass along the message of preserving the park so it will continue to be there for generations to come. Everyone had an amazing time. Andrea Garcia, Club member of the Al Davies Branch said, “My favorite Yellowstone memory is Old Faithful. Old Faithful is my favorite because I like how it erupts. It is also a great photo opportunity, it makes you really excited when you are about to see it.” By the end of the trip all of the kids had earned their junior ranger badges which were presented to them in style with an official ceremony at the Park Visitor Center. The trip went so well that it is expected to become an annual adventure for all of those at the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound who want to experience all the amazement at Yellowstone National Park.