Outings for Fourteen to Eighteen Year Olds
Outings with high school students are a unique experience. There tends to be more one on one interaction between the leaders and the participants than there is with younger groups. This may be partly due to smaller group size and partly because the youngsters in this age group tend to interact with adults as equals. They are rapidly approaching autonomy and can think about and express how they think and feel. They often enjoy discussing what they’re currently doing and their hopes for the future.
If the high school participants are members of a hiking or ecology club, the ICO leader may be able to visit them at their school or agency to prepare them for outings. If not, the ICO leader will need to provide guidance to the teacher or other agency person as to how to best prepare them. Further guidance will need to take place at the site of the outing. The youngsters should take an active role in determining at least some aspects of the outing and how they should behave.
Youngsters this age tend to think of themselves as invulnerable. As the leader, know the area to be visited and foresee and discuss possible dangers; be sure youngsters understand they aren’t to go off on their own. Provide physical challenges that are within their ability. Long, uphill hikes and stream crossings offer challenges. If there are enough leaders, stronger hikers can go ahead while others hike at a slower pace as long as everyone can successfully reach the destination.
Teenagers often want to become active in meaningful service projects. They will often be interested in volunteering in environmental projects such as replanting wetlands and removing invasive plants from parks.
With appropriate background experiences, they are ready to plan and implement extended outings. After a couple of hikes (including one with full backpacks) and an overnight car camping trip, they may be ready to undertake backpacking. This kind of sequence of increasingly challenging activities will build the autonomous adults they are striving to become. The ICO leader will need to help with the selection of appropriate equipment. With guidance, the youngsters can plan meals, market, prepare meals, clean up after meals, and pitch their own tents.
[Service Group in Sequoia Grove. Photo credit: Rob Selzer]