Just 8% of young people ages 6 to 17 have access to a formal mentor. Children from low-income households report fewer caring adults than do their peers from higher-income households. We know parents, teachers, counselors and other mentors do serve as caring adults for the majority of our children and youth, but for 8.5 million young people, particularly the disadvantaged, this fundamental resource is lacking.
The percentage of young people from the Voices Study who say they “wish they had more adults they could turn to when they need help” is significantly higher among African Americans (53%) than among whites (38%). Hispanic youth (45%) felt least comfortable seeking advice from adults.
Our Explorers are given, and readily accept, the chance to become actively engaged in hands-on learning. We aim to provide a change of pace from classroom learning by giving clear-cut reasons why what our lessons matter, and in turn our Explorers reach a new level of engagement with the lesson. On one Saturday Challenge, a group of girls were learning how to use GPS devices and were having some trouble getting excited about the lesson. As they walked by a pond on the Greenbelt trail, one of the girls yelled excitedly while pointing at the pond. She had spotted a crayfish and proudly showed it off to the group.
The Park Rangers leading the excursion took a quick hiatus from their itinerary to give an impromptu lesson on crayfish, and having just seen the creature, every single girl in the group was hanging on to their every word. The whole group was interested and asking question, and remained more engaged for the rest of the trip as well. Moments like these are so important because our Explorers become curious pursuers of information about the world around them, a skill that will take them far in life. An active interest will yield knowledge that sticks and can be used in future endeavors, whatever they may be.
We’ve found that our Explorers are 10% higher on a youth development scale than the national average. Consequently, we know that our youth are 61% less likely than their peers to use alcohol, 68% less likely to use illicit drugs, 48% less likely to engage in sexual activities, and 90% more likely to succeed in school.
“I accomplished something I never thought possible, and I know now to never doubt myself again because I’m capable of anything.”