Thanksgiving Day, 2023
To Everyone in our Wilderness Kids Community,
As I reflect on Wilderness Kids and the experience that we've had over the past two years, I realize that this effort has been so successful because we, as a community, have remembered that we belong to each other. It is through the commitment and effort of each and every member of our community that so many young people in Alexandria have had incredible experiences in nature--young people who simply would not have those opportunities without all of us coming together to create them.
So, thank you for remembering that we belong to one another. Thank you to our 70+ volunteers who have committed over 600 hours with our students on the trail, rockface, and river. Thank you to our 195 donors who have paid for our camping gear and our new (used) van, for campground fees and canoe rentals, for our incredible staff and for the occasional summer ice cream cone for the kids. Thank you to all our program partners who are, honestly, too many to mention; you've enriched our experiences with all that you bring to our partnerships. Thank you to our talented staff who dedicate themselves to our students, walking the line between pushing them beyond their comfort zone and keeping them safe. Thank you to our families who entrust your children to us on rock faces and in whitewater, in the forests and on the mountains. We thank you.
We end each Wilderness Kids experience--whether an After-School session, a Weekend Outing, or a day on the trail in a summer camping experience--with an expression of gratitude. Our students, even when they don't have much, express thanks for that special someone or some thing in their life: often it is mom or dad or a grandparent, or a new friend or a whole set of friends; sometimes it is learning to climb or paddle; or perhaps the dinner they are going home to. Whatever it is, they leave the day remembering that there are good things in their lives.
So, last but far from least, thank you to our students. For giving us the joy of leading you in the outdoors, the fun of sharing with you something that we truly love. For taking a chance on us when we say "Wanna go in that cave?" or "Come on in, the water's fine!" You bring smiles to our faces, and put a spring in our step. We are so happy and thankful to have you in our lives.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
On behalf of the entire Wilderness Kids Team, with gratitude,