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Left to right: Building a Raised Garden Bed; Writing Letters to the CT Children’s Medical Center

Service/Adventure Crew (SAC) is a program for youth age 9-13 that focuses on helping youth engage with the outdoors in two ways: exploring the natural world and performing service projects in the community. Service/Adventure Crew is staffed with two Educators and one teenage Youth Educator Intern. The program meets 2 times per week, for 2 hours, in each neighborhood. In Fall 2011, SAC met at Westville Manor and McConaughy Terrace, totaling about 8 hours/week. Service/Adventure Crew is a core program of Solar Youth’s “Cycle of Stewardship,” a menu of programs (see graphic below) that allows youth to learn about local ecology and participate in outdoor adventures, build on their experiences, maintain relationships, progressively gain more leadership skills, become positive change agents in their environments, and then as teenage Interns serve as role models for younger children.

Westville Manor


Service/Adventure Crew, like all programs, follows Solar Youth’s unique program model: Kids Explore! Kids Do! Kids Teach! Through this model, youth investigate the local ecology of their community (Kids Explore!), identify environmental issues that affect the health of people and the natural environment, and seek solutions through a process of problem-solving and youth led action (Kids Do!), then teach what they have learned and accomplished to others through public education projects (Kids Teach!). The expected outcomes for Service/Adventure Crew program are: 


A demonstrated development of, at minimum, nine of the Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets (the building blocks of positive youth development, the possession of which has shown to have significant effect on youth's ability to resist negative influences and achieve success in adult life). The Developmental Assets we will measure are within the categories of 'constructive use of time,' 'empowerment,' 'commitment to learning,' 'positive values,' and 'social competencies.' A demonstrated increase in environmental knowledge and commitment to environmental stewardship.


Finally, as a result of implementation of youth-led community service projects and Public Education Projects (PEPs), Service/Adventure Crew contributes to an ecologically healthier and more environmentally conscious City of New Haven and its environs. In addition, outcomes for Youth Educators include:  

A demonstrated increase in understanding of best principles and practices of youth development. A demonstrated development of employability skills, such as timeliness, public speaking, personal financial management, work ethic and a commitment to excellence.

II. From 2011-2012 Hours of program offered Teenage youth hired Total youth enrolled Out-of-Neighborhood Adventure Trips Youth-led Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) Public Education Projects (PEPs)

158 3 41 20 14 8


67% 33%

African-American Latino/a Caucasian Other

82% 18% 0% 0%

McConaughy Terrace Stewards selling baked goods for the Connecticut Medical Center PAGE 2


2011-2012 Service/Adventure Crew Curriculum Environmental topics addressed and activities conducted during Service/Adventure Crew included: Adventure Brainstorms All about Dirt & Compost Bake Sales Bulb Plantings Cleanup at Judge’s Cave Common Ground Visit Community Cleanups Costume Party Games All Day Garden Grant Proposal Garden Tool Intro Garden Winterization

Halloween Party (Eco31) Hike to Judge’s Cave Hike to SY Bridge Lake Wintergreen Hike Nature Sits Neighborhood Mapping Neighborhood Tours Night Hike Park Cleanup &Overhaul Raised Garden Beds SAC Comic Books SAC Diorama

SAC Movie &Interviews Scavenger Hunt Bingo Seed Bombs Seed Plantings Seedling Care Service Project Brainstorms Sign Painting Stewarding the SY Trail SY Bridge Repainting Thank You Cards Treasure Hunts

Developmental topics addressed and activities conducted during SAC included: Literacy Emotional Intelligence Empathy

Kindness/Making Friends Listening Skills Cooperation

Building Motor Skills Team Building Trust Building

Kids Explore! As part of every Solar Youth program season, youth not only have a chance to explore their local ecology, but they also participate in several out-of-neighborhood explorations! Fall Explorations


Hiking at West Rock Park

Stewards from every Solar Youth team were represented during our fall kick-off hike. SAC did an excellent job encouraging their friends all the way to the summit! The group also learned a little bit about the history of the park, during a lunch break at Judges’ Cave.

Exploring the Solar Youth Trail

Stewards walked the Solar Youth trail to see a real-life example of a past service project. They also saw the bridge and discussed its importance to the community.

Hiking at East Rock Park

Beginning with a romp through Rice Field, Stewards made their way up to Indian Head, and then onto East Rock’s famous Giant Steps, helping each other all the way up. At the summit, the group played games and created a Thank You banner in honor of Veterans’ Day.


Over-the-Rock Hiking and Teambuilding at West Rock Park

In an attempt to bring together teams from our McConaughy Terrace and Westville Manor neighborhoods, this adventure was based around teamwork and building solidarity. Each group hiked from their “side” of West Rock, meeting at the top for a day of games and friendship.

Hiking at Bluff Point State Park

On a beautiful fall day, Stewards hiked over 3 miles to Bluff Point in Groton – the last remaining stretch of preserved land along Long Island Sound in CT.

Exploring at Yale Peabody Museum

From the “Bloodsuckers” exhibit on bedbugs and other creepy crawlies, to the gemstone room, to the exhibits on Native American culture, Stewards thoroughly enjoyed this day of learning.

Solar Star Trip at Mystic Aquarium

Stewards with perfect attendance throughout the season earned their spot on this special trip! Many were delighted to learn the differences between sea lions and seals, others were captivated by sting rays and jellyfish, but the stars of the day were the big beluga whales!

Public Education Forum at African American Cultural Center

SAC performed their hearts out, offering the audience poetry readings about the environment and telling stories about the many projects they completed.

End of Season Celebration at Clinton Avenue School

To culminate the season’s successes, Stewards of all ages joined in a day-long carnival-style celebration, complete with crafts, competitive games, snacks, a photo booth, dancing, and prizes!

Conquering the Trail

Because of Columbus Day and early release from school, SAC started program early and hiked up to Judge's Cave. Stewards had a fabulous time exploring the caves, enjoying the sunshine, and playing games.

Hike to Lake Wintergreen

Hiding Treasures

Stewards set off in search of Lake Wintergreen! The group hiked swiftly in order to have the most time for games at the Lake. Once we arrived, we talked about the health of lakes, fishing practices, and took a mental snapshot of the beautiful scenery before hiking back to Westville Manor. Stewards broke up into two teams and hid bags of "treasure" (Halloweenthemed prizes) either on the Solar Youth Trail or behind the playing field on the way to the Nature Center. They then made maps with clues indicating the prize locations and set out in search of their own prizes!

Excursion to Common Ground High School

SAC spent the afternoon at Common Ground watching the goats and sheep before the animals were put away for the evening. Stewards were even able to pet and feed some of the animals!

River Exploration

Stewards walked to the river to explore the possibility of creating a better trail. We discussed how that part of the neighborhood could be improved (benches, a trail, a bridge). Many games of camouflage were played!


Spring Explorations


Eager to be outside after the winter, Stewards voted to hike to Lake Hike to Lake Wintergreen, Wintergreen. On the way they stretched their legs and were on the pt. 1 lookout for signs of spring. Stewards enjoyed a break in the rainy weather and hiked to Lake Hike to Lake Wintergreen, Wintergreen in record time. They even wanted to press on to the bridge pt. 2 over the dam! Several Stewards talked to some fishermen about their catches and impressed them with their knowledge. Hike to Judge’s Cave, pt. 1

Stewards trekked all the way up to Judge’s Cave! Kids helped encourage each other to keep their spirits high. Some even gave up breaks so they could make it to the top together.

Hike to Judge’s Cave, pt. 2

Stewards hit the trail for another program in the sunshine. SAC hiked to an overlook on the way to Judge's Cave and enjoyed playing games and getting to know each other better while hiking.

Solar Youth Trail Walk

Noticing that the winter had brought more trash and brush to the Solar Youth trail, SAC Stewards took rakes, gloves, and trash bags into the woods for some serious trail work. They completed raking the entire trail in a single program!

Stewards at McConaughy Terrace hiked to Judge's Cave. They hiked so West Rock Trail to Judge’s quickly that they had a full 30 minutes to play games before hiking back Cave down. Davis Street School Trip

McConaughy Terrace Stewards ventured off-site, this time not for a hike, but to nearby Davis Street School. SAC took advantage of their large field and playground to play kickball, velcro pass, and Ninja.

From left to right: Replanting a garden; Raking the Solar Youth Trail; Gardening behind Solar Youth


Kids Do! While they explore their outdoor surroundings and participate in adventures further afield, youth identify environmental or community issues they want to tackle, then implement service projects to address those needs! This process comprises the “Service” half of the “Service/Adventure” program. Completing these service projects helps youth hone their problem-solving skills, cultivate an identity as agents of positive change, and make their community a healthier and more beautiful place to live! Fall Service Projects

Welcome Garden CleanUp

Butterfly Garden Clean-Up

Bulb Planting

Bridge Painting

Trail Maintenance

Painting Signs

Bake Sale

Litter Clean-Ups

Park Overhaul

Descriptions Armed with rubber gloves, garbage bags, and hand rakes, SAC walked to the Welcome Garden and cleaned out the leaves from around the plants. We collected leaves in garbage bags and emptied them across the street, taking care to put garbage scraps elsewhere. Stewards took their garden clean-up skills to the Butterfly Garden and raked out more leaves. Passing community members marked how much nicer the gardens looked after their touch-ups! While the sun set, Stewards learned how to use hand rakes and trowels, then dug holes for bulbs. Other Stewards then planted the bulbs, covered them with soil, watered them, and patiently waited for spring! After walking to the bridge and experiencing a mini night hike with their new headlamps, Stewards painted the bridge in alternating colors of blue and yellow. It looks great! Stewards raked the leaves off the Solar Youth trail to make the trail easier to see. Stewards did a great job of hacking roots away from the trail and clearing it of all debris. We raked the entire SY trail! Under the flood lights at the park, SAC set up a painting shop and set their creative sides free! Stewards painted signs that will eventually decorate the Solar Youth office with positive messages like Safe Zone, Fun Times Here, and Welcome! Stewards circulated through the neighborhood in two different shifts, earning close to $60 by selling cookies, cinnamon rolls, and donuts. Their proceeds went to a local homeless shelter. Stewards participated in several litter clean-ups throughout the season. Each time, they collected at least 5 full bags of trash and numerous oddlyshaped large items (bike wheels, hubcaps, desk fans, etc.). 100% youth-developed and youth-led, the Park Overhaul was a huge success. Stewards broke into teams and completed tasks such as tightening bolts on the slides, washing off graffiti, raking the woodchips, and picking up trash from around the park equipment. Stewards didn’t want program to end!


Spring Service Projects

McConaughy Terrace Raised Garden Bed

Westville Manor Raised Garden Beds

Litter Clean-Ups Bake Sales Letters to the CT Children’s Medical Center Solar Youth Trail Spring Spruce-Up Flower Planting

Descriptions Over the course of 2 weeks, Stewards at McConaughy Terrace planned where to make a raised garden, planted seeds in a homemade greenhouse, constructed the garden frame, cleared grass, shoveled topsoil into the frame, and finally planted their seeds in the garden. Over the summer they will continue to monitor and take care of their garden. In a 4-week period, Stewards at Westville Manor completed a huge gardening project. Between Solar Youth’s front and backyards, they cleared out huge piles of dead plant material and trash, prepared the ground for planting, and installed two complete raised garden beds. They then planted fruits and vegetables in the gardens and learned how they would need to maintain the gardens in the coming days, weeks, and months. At the beginning of the spring season, Stewards noticed that the winter had left behind a lot of new trash. Stewards scoured their neighborhood in search of trash, sometimes collecting more than 15 bags in one day! Building upon the success of their bake sales in the fall, Stewards completed one more bake sale at each neighborhood site, netting close to $100 for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. To accompany their bake sale proceeds donation, Stewards wrote letters to the children at the hospital wishing them speedy recoveries and lots of fun with the toys they hoped the money would help buy for them. Stewards at Westville Manor saw that winter had left the Solar Youth trail covered in leaf debris. Armed with rakes and trash bags, they collected 2 bags of trash that had blown onto or around the trail, then raked the path to make it visible again. Stewards planted seeds that they had started themselves and greenhousestarted plants. They learned the difference between planting in a container and planting in a raised bed or planting directly in the ground.

Kids Teach! Stewards conclude the season by developing Public Education Projects (PEPs) that educate their peers, parents and general public about environmental and community issues that they care about. By designing and executing a PEP, youth have the opportunity to be recognized as public “experts” on important issues and “re-learn” important lessons from the earlier part of the season. Fall Public Education Projects


Diorama Creation

SAC made a fantastic diorama out of clay, a cardboard box, and other arts and crafts supplies. Stewards made a model of the bridge that they repainted, mini houses (the neighborhood), flowers, people, trees and rakes. Everyone was so engaged in their project! Stewards worked in 3 small groups to write sections of a garden proposal application for a community vegetable garden in Westville Manor. Stewards were asked to reflect on their experiences in SAC Crew, then write about them for future inclusion in Solar Youth’s blog and on Facebook. We included three activities: one-on-one video interviews, drawing/collage-making, and writing.

Work on Garden Proposal

Season Reflections


PEP Prep

Public Education Forum

Spring Public Education Projects Garden Markers

Photo Slideshows

Public Education Forum

Stewards made their own comic books (one sheet of paper cut and folded so that all the "comics" are on one side and can be easily photocopied and distributed) about what they learned from Solar Youth during the fall season. At the Public Education Form, they distributed their art to family, friends, and other Stewards. Stewards participated in Solar Youth’s Public Education Forum at Yale’s Afro-American Cultural Center, where SAC youth presented what they learned and accomplished over the season to youth in other Solar Youth programs, family and friends. Descriptions Stewards at McConaughy Terrace and Westville Manor designed markers to go in their gardens to mark which plants were where. These markers will help them keep track of what is a weed and what isn’t! Stewards at both neighborhood sites journaled about which program days were their favorites. Photos from those days were then featured in Solar Youth’s End-of-Season slideshow during the Public Education Forum. Stewards participated in Solar Youth’s end-of-season Public Education Forum, which took place at City Hall. With the help of their Interns, Stewards presented what they completed over the course of the season.

From left to right: Hiking to Lake Wintergreen; Hiking to Judge’s Cave; Animal Tracking at West Rock Nature Center


Solar Youth’s Evaluation Process Solar Youth measures its programs with a combination of evaluation tools, including Pre/Post surveys, Portfolios (evidence and examples of youth community service and public education work), Youth Feedback Forms, Family Feedback Forms, and Community Feedback Forms. The feedback forms are based on best-practice evaluation tools developed by the Search Institute. Our pre/post survey, which measures ecological literacy and leadership knowledge, aligns with Connecticut State standards for science learning. PAGE 8

Service/Adventure Crew measures its program using Portfolios, Youth Feedback Forms, and Family Feedback Forms.

Feedback from Participating Youth and Parents CATEGORY Youth Development Outcomes Prompt: “Because of Solar Youth…” Empowerment  The community values Steward  Steward is given useful roles in the community Commitment to Learning  Steward is actively engaged in learning  Steward wants to do well in school Positive Values  Steward places a high value on helping others  Steward is more accountable for his/her actions Social Competencies  Steward’s planning and decision making skills have improved  Steward has learned to be a better friend  Steward is more sensitive to the feelings of others Environmental Outcomes  Steward’s knowledge about the environment improved  Steward is more responsible about the effect he/she has on the environment Quality Assurance  I would recommend Solar Youth to my friends/other parents  I would like to (see my child) attend Solar Youth next season



74% 76%

75% 94%

95% 97%

88% 78%

89% 90%

94% 83%



67% 71%

88% 75%

92% 79%

94% 94%





From left to right: Westville Manor Service/Adventure Crew at Lake Wintergreen; Stewards helping move topsoil for a raised vegetable garden.


Quotes and Testimonials Service/Adventure Crew Parents: “My child would like to go to Solar Youth every day. It keeps her off the streets and you all teach her a lot of respect and rules that she obeys.” “Romell taught me about the poisonous plants around our house.” [Because of Solar Youth…] “[My child] will pick up trash outside peoples’ yards.” “Damaris has been a better sister at home with her brothers. She has helped them more and is now babysitting! She told me all about when you guys planted the garden and other amazing things like that!” [Because of Solar Youth…] “[My child] is doing better in school and she loves to help people.” “I think Solar Youth is a good outlet for his energy and now he wants to get involved with his community.” Service/Adventure Crew Participants:

“I think Solar Youth was and is a blessing for the people living in this community because a lot of the young children have a place to go after school and Solar Youth teaches them a lot about being out in the world.”

“[Solar Youth] helped me learn more and helped me do well in school.”

- Solar Youth Parent

“I learned how to get along with people in the community.” “I have an after school program and don’t have to stay in the house.” “Everyone learned how to work together.” [My favorite part of Solar Youth was…] “Going on field trips and seeing my friends from other places.” “I can always make the environment more beautiful and make it stay clean.” “I learned to be a better friend.” Interns: “I learned how much work and attention a garden needs!” [Because of Solar Youth…] “I found my flaws and am now working to improve them.” “I can continue building relationships with youth by being really active, goofy but understanding at the same time. Not to be strict at all times but not being too nice because they can take advantage of [me]. [I’m] basically keeping it at a balance.”


V. What Worked Well Dedicated program Interns

Family engagement

Long-term service projects


Room for Improvement Attendance Policy

Family involvement

Why, and Suggested Adjustments In the fall, SAC did not have an Intern. Maintaining a positive group dynamic was difficult without the additional supervision an Intern could provide. In the spring, SAC had at least one Intern at each site. Interns served as additional role models who could relate to Stewards in ways that Educators could not, and they brought a new perspective and sense of fun to each program. Families were always kept well-informed of details pertaining to the program and their children. Certain negative behaviors resulted in calls home and Stewards taking a day off more often than usual, but parents were very supportive and offered additional, important information about their child. In response to feedback from Stewards that they repeated similar activities too frequently, the SAC Educator decided to try a long-term service project at each site. Stewards learned how to use tools, construct raised beds, and plant flowers and vegetables, among other skills, over the course of 2 - 4 weeks. There was something for everyone in this type of project, and it was easy to delegate tasks to each youth (but having a high Educator-or-Intern to Steward ratio is important for oversight). In the fall, SAC faced the recurring problem of darkness from about 5:00 pm onward, or about half of the program. To avoid spending most of the afternoon inside just because it was dark, SAC invested in about 20 “loaner� headlamps for Stewards. They LOVED having a new toy to learn about, and thought having a light on their head was really cool. Why, and Suggested Adjustments SAC faces a little bit of a conundrum in regards to attendance. If we require youth to be there, like in a Steward Team, some who are fundamentally opposed to hiking or digging in the dirt will put up more resistance than it is worth to overcome. However, not requiring youth to stay for the whole program means that some youth will leave and come back, or leave without notice (which warrants a call home in the middle of program), both of which interrupt the group dynamic and make it difficult to interact with kids meaningfully as an educator. This was mostly a problem at Westville Manor; at McConaughy Terrace, the group was also a friendly social group outside of Solar Youth. While several family members were engaged in the daily activity of the program, staff would still like to help foster greater family involvement in behavior management, adventure trips, and end-of-season activities.


Clockwise from top left: Jawaan and volunteer Ashley during a Bake Sale; Shae, Kema, Tinaejah, and Educator Julie at West Rock; Keharra helping move dirt; Westville Manor SAC at Lake Wintergreen; Westville Manor brainstorming service projects; Geor’nai at the End of Season celebration. PAGE 12

Service Adventure Program Outcome Report 2011-2012  

Information about the activities and outcomes of the 2011-2012 Solar Youth Steward team.

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