24 August 2017

Skylark Goes to The Boundless School

It has been another successful year where Skylark’s youth have attended The Boundless School!

The Boundless School opened in 1984 and offers summer adventure programs for at-risk youth. In partnership with various Ontario-based community agencies including Skylark, these programs give youth the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and step out of their comfort zone. They provide unique learning experiences for students whose needs are not met by the mainstream school system. Boundless originally began as an outdoor adventure center, and later registered as a charity and private school in 2004. The facilities are located in Palmer Rapids, Ontario, and include over 600 acres of land and 3000 feet of the Madawaska River.

The five-day adventure program targets students age 15-19, and offers them a chance to rediscover education and work towards the completion of their high school diploma. To qualify for this program, students must be referred by a school or a youth organization. Outdoor camps can be very expensive, and Boundless gives youth the opportunity to attend these camps by subsidizing 100% of the program fees. The programs are very impactful for students, giving them the learning opportunities that may have not been available in a traditional classroom setting. As many of the youth have mental health issues or are dealing with problems at home, the staff ensure that students are always in a safe and welcoming environment. The Boundless School is an alternative education center that help students who have had difficulty in a conventional high school. The youth are taught the skills that will allow them to be independent, responsible, and successful for when they return to the public school system.

The Child Youth Workers at Skylark accompanied the students during trips in June and July. There were many fun activities such as rafting, rope course climbing, camping outdoors, and learning how to set up a tent. It was a great experience for the staff and the youth, who were able to enjoy a relaxing retreat and learn more about each other. In addition, the staff were very knowledgeable, kind spirited, and made sure that the youth had the best experience possible. This year, the adventure program served 132 students and issued 149 high school credits.

“This past June, I was given the amazing opportunity to join Skylark youth on a 5 day trip with The Boundless School. This trip provided experiences and opportunities to our youth that they would never have had without the generous support of The Boundless School and their dedicated and passionate staff. I watched youth, who are reserved and quiet in the classroom, shine and burst out of their shells. This trip provided the youth and staff the opportunity to connect and build trust with each other in ways that aren’t possible in our program spaces. We are so grateful to Boundless and their staff for going above and beyond for our youth.”   

– Emily Green

“My favourite highlight from the July trip was the night we went rock climbing. One youth had struggled to get up the wall and had tried many times. Members of the group gathered around her to encourage her to give it one last try. It was easy to see she was tired, but her support team wouldn’t let her give up. Staff and peers gathered below her to give her support and words of encouragement. Every time she reached a higher rung the group would erupt with cheers and applause. The caring and support in that room was palpable. When she reached the top and rung the bell, it was as if we had all reached it with her. Throughout this whole trip the youth were all supportive and welcoming of each other. It was an amazing experience for all the students that came.” 

– Nicole Obeng

Written by Golden Halfyard.

Golden is a third-year finance student at the University of Toronto. He is working as a summer student at Skylark in the Fund Development department. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and playing baseball.