From left to right: An SAC intern and youth showing off the fish they caught at Lake Wintergreen; An SAC youth enjoying the beach at Lighthouse Point; Cooling off at Judgesâ€™ Cave
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 summer Service/Adventure Crew program meets 4 times per week, for 4 hours, in the Westville Manor neighborhood. Westville Manor
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 eventually, as teenage Interns, serve as role models for younger children.
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!). Service/Adventure Crew is Solar Youth’s low-contact, high impact neighborhood program. While Steward Teams focus on environmental science curriculum and an extended, more sophisticated Community Service Action Project, each day at Service/Adventure offers a different self-contained activity, providing the opportunity for local adventure, or to be change agents through smaller community service projects. Thus, every day youth are provided with either an off-site exploration or a community service project, allowing them to obtain a healthy balance of both educational fun and community stewardship. The expected outcomes for our 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.
From left to right: Fishing at Lighthouse State Park; exploring Judge’s Cave; feeling the love at the Peabody Museum; sanding a bench for the Solar Youth office
During the Summer of 2012… Hours of program offered Teenage youth hired Total youth enrolled Out-of-Neighborhood Adventure Trips Youth-led Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs)
61 2 9 10 4
PROGRAM DEMOGRAPHICS Female Male
African-American Latino/a Caucasian Other
78% 22% 0% 0%
Summer 2012 SAC Curriculum Environmental topics addressed and activities conducted during Service Adventure this summer included: Food Sources Food Chains Ecosystem Cycles
Herbi-/Carni-/Omni-vore Adaptations Animal Tracks
Fish Anatomy/Physiology Trail Maintainence/Care
Developmental topics addressed and activities conducted during the 2012 Summer Season included: Literacy Emotional Intelligence Empathy
Kindness/Making Friends Listening Skills Cooperation
Building Motor Skills
From left to right: Holding a salamander; An SAC intern showing youth a frog; Exploring the beach at Lighthouse Point; SAC youth finding wildlife right in their backyard.
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! Summer Explorations
Hiking and Fishing at Lake Wintergreen
SAC’s first off-site exploration was a fishing trip at Lake Wintergreen! During the hike to the lake, the youth collected worms for bait. Every youth got a turn fishing, and had so much fun that they begged to return later in the season!
Exploring at Yale Peabody Museum
On the hottest day of summer, SAC escaped the heat by visiting the Yale Peabody Museum. The youth explored all of the usual exhibits, learning about things like dinosaurs, different ecosystems and the animals that inhabit them, and even saw a real mummy! The most exciting exhibits were the temporary “Big Food” exhibit on health, culture, and the evolution of eating, and the Discovery Room which, unlike all other rooms in the museum, has signs in front of each exhibit that say “Please Touch.”
Hiking at West Rock Park
Hiking at Sleeping Giant State Park
Exploring at Lighthouse Point Park
Hiking at East Rock Park
End of Season Fishing Trip
After an inspection of the Solar Youth Trail, the youth felt inspired to hike all the way up to Judges Cave! The youth explored every inch of the massive rocks and then relaxed and listened to the story of the three judges who were forced to flee England and hide in New Haven after signing the death warrant for King George I. Armed with water and snacks, the Service/Adventure Crew left New Haven and ventured into Hamden to explore the beautiful Sleeping Giant State Park, hiking up one of the most challenging trails to get to an amazing view up on the belly of the Sleeping Giant. Committed to leaving the park better than they found it, the youth picked up and packed out any trash they found along the way! On a hot, sunny summer day, the Service/Adventure Crew traveled to Lighthouse Point to explore the ecosystems of the beach and tide pools. After an afternoon of exploring, the youth cooled off in the splash park! Looking for a little change of scenery, SAC ventured to East Rock Park, hiking along the river and then up East Rock’s famous Giant Steps, supporting and helping each other during the climb. At the summit, the group marveled at the amazing view and tried to locate various places around New Haven, including the Westville Manor neighborhood! The SAC were given the opportunity to choose the location and activity for the final trip of the season, and much to everyone’s surprise, they unanimously chose to go fishing again, this time at Lighthouse State Park! The weather was great and even though the fish weren’t biting , there was an unending amount of crabs, snails, and other small critters to find and observe, along with some large, scary jellyfish that had floated up onto shore, familiarizing the youth with a small part of the ecology of the Long Island Sound.
Kids Do! After exploring their outdoor surroundings and participating in adventures further afield, SACyouth identify environmental or community issues they want to tackle, brainstorm solutions, develop plans to address the issue they have chosen and then implement and evaluate their project! We call this the Community Service Action Project (C-SAP) Cycle. Engaging in the C-SAP Cycle allows youth to hone their problem-solving skills, cultivates in them an identity as agents of positive change and makes their community a healthier and more beautiful place to live! In Service/Adventure Crew, youth are offered the opportunity to complete several smaller C-SAPs throughout the course of the season, an experience that reminds them service can be a part of their daily lives! Summer Community Service Action Projects Erosion Control Project
The SAC Bench
Descriptions After receiving a donation of perennial flowers, SAC decided to use these flowers to try and minimize the chronic erosion on Solar Youth’s side yard. The youth planted the flowers along the eroded area, stabilizing the soil and beautifying the area around the Solar Youth office! The SAC youth felt it would be nice to have somewhere to sit in front of the Solar Youth building, and so they worked at the beginning of the season on building a bench for the front yard of SY. The youth helped to sand down a large log for the seat of the bench, and then carved their names into the wood. PAGE 4
SY Trail Clean-Up
Beautification/Weeding of SYâ€™s Gardens and Yards
Cluefest New HaveN, a citywide scavenger hunt, was on its way to the Solar Youth trail, and Service Adventure Crew took it upon themselves to ready the trail for vistorsâ€™ arrival! They removed any trash from the trail and repaired all weather-related damages to the Solar Youth Bridge, and showed their work off to 100 visitors! As an ongoing project throughout the summer season, SAC worked to remove the weeds and unwanted plants from the garden beds both in the front and back yards of SY. The youth also removed any trash that had found its way into the gardens, and watered the plants that had been planted there the season before.
From left to right: Sanding down the SY Bench; Exploring the woods near SY; Doing a trail clean-up on the way to Lake Wintergreen.
What Worked Well Minimizing transportation costs
Why, and Suggested Adjustments Since one of the major emphases of SAC is adventure and environmental exploration, transportation costs can pile up quickly in order to provide fun and interesting trips throughout the season. However, the combination of a smaller group size, the use of partnerships with other local organizations, and the use of the many trails nearby Solar Youth, SAC was able to minimize its transportations costs while still managing to go on trips all over the Greater New Haven area. Families were always kept well-informed of details pertaining to the program and their children. This made it easier to deal with any lastminute changes to the schedule or cancellations due to issues like inclement weather.
Room for Improvement Attendance Policy
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. A suggested adjustment is a firm policy that remains consistent from season to season.
Clockwise from left: Holding up a fish caught at Lake Wintergreen; Fishing and enjoying the view at Lighthouse Point; Relaxing on the summit of East Rock; Finding wildlife in the woods around SY.