A lot of us in the outdoor community were fortunate to participate in wilderness adventures from a pretty young age. Those of us in that group can attest to the lifelong benefits these early adventures have provided and the strength with which they have shaped our world view as adults. Whether or not you got an early start as an outdoor enthusiast, it’s hard to argue against the positive effects of learning outdoor skills as a young person, particularly among kids who don’t otherwise have much opportunity for wilderness experiences. Outdoor adventures make us healthier and more capable of handling life’s challenges. They also show us the beauty of nature, and inspire us to care deeply about the planet we live on. These are some of the core beliefs behind Peak Pursuits, a new non-profit based in Portland that’s dedicated to getting kids outside and learning wilderness survival skills.

Peak Pursuits was started earlier this year by Portland, ME locals Natalie Yarid, Andrew Lombardi and and Leland DeWalt, all of whom have sizable backgrounds in youth outdoor education. Beginning this fall, they’re launching their first public offering, an after school outdoor adventure program that will depart three days a week from middle schools around Portland. The program is open to kids ages 10-15 (also accepting other ages who are interested), and will focus on teaching skills like orienteering & navigation, leave no trace practices, outdoor leadership principles, and more. In addition, science topics like local flora & fauna, weather, and ecology will be program staples.

Each day, students will be picked up after school and travel to a different outdoor classroom to work on skills and topics that directly relate to their surroundings. DeWalt says he’s excited to show off some of the incredible natural locations that can be found right in the Portland area. He hopes to show local kids how accessible the natural world is to Mainers and inspire them to keep exploring outside of the after school program. Ultimately, the goal is to promote values of community and environmental stewardship in a new generation of leaders.

We couldn’t agree more with this mission. It’s a lofty goal, but one accomplished through the simple, fun, and fulfilling practice of exploring the natural world. It should be a great addition to our community. Please help spread the word, especially if you know a young person that might be interested! If you’d like to learn more about Peak Pursuits and the great team they’ve assembled, check out peakpursuits.org and see the after school program details below.

After school program details:

When: Tuesdays & Thursdays: 2:30-5:30pm, Wednesdays: 1:15-5:30pm (beginning September 4th, 2018) Monthly expeditions to either Acadia, Baxter or the Whites, with opportunities to fly fish and rock climb.

Where: Outdoor classroom locations such as the Fore River, Presumpscott River, Crescent Beach or a local farm

Pick-up Locations: King Middle School, Lyman Moore Middle School or Lincoln Middle School

Activities & Topics: Orienteering & Navigation, Camp Etiquette, First Aid, Leave No Trace, Team Building Practices, Leadership Skill, Geography, local flora and fauna, and weather

Registration: open now, visit: https://www.peakpursuits.org/registrationform/ or call 207-460-1468

Other Peak Pursuits Events: For regularly scheduled community outdoor adventures. Visit https://www.meetup.com/Community-Outdoor-Adventures-with-Peak-Pursuits/

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