This summer, we partnered with the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club (HBGC) for the third year to offer hands-on outdoor programs to their middle school club members. Groups visited our Berkshires site twice for Learn About Forests™ programming and participated in follow-up experiences in the city, including trail stewardship and urban birding. Justin Bresnahan, Program Coordinator, has been an integral part of making these experiences available to youth at HBGC. Read his reflection on the 2021 summer program below.
I’ve been connected with Eagle Eye since the summer of 2019. I initially knew nothing about the program, as it was my first time running a teen summer camp, and I quickly fell in love with how involved, caring, and passionate everyone was at every level of the organization. It is eye-opening to see the outcomes when youth who don’t think of the trees in their neighborhood park as nature begin getting immersed in the natural world that surrounds them. These youth, some of whom had never climbed a tree in their life, now at the end of the summer seriously consider a job in environmental protection.
It’s incredible to see the youth exit their comfort zone in an environment where they aren’t being judged and they are allowed to be kids again in this fast-paced world. I remember the faces the youth made when they took their shoes and socks off and walked around the forest for the first time barefoot. The laughing and bewilderment at how soft the forest floor was beneath their feet and their groans and eww’s as the mud crept between their toes are memories they and I will cherish forever.
Eagle Eye is without question one of the most important programs we have partnered with in many years, and will continue to be for many years to come.
Justin Bresnahan, Program Coordinator, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke