Earlier this month, Backyard Sports Cares coordinated an extended weekend to Brant Lake Camp in the Adirondacks for 12 teen residents from the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester. For many of these at-risk young men, it was their first time officially camping, and for others, it was their first foray out of an urban environment and into nature.
The Youth Shelter Program of Westchester is a residency program that serves as an alternative to incarceration for young men between the ages of 16 and 21. The shelter provides residents with the critical support they need to turn their lives around, including schooling, mentoring, and counseling. The average stay is 12-18 months. Upon successful completion of the program, participants are given a second chance to rejoin their community as citizens with new coping skills and without the long-term stain and disadvantage of a criminal record.
Boys slept in bunks and participated in a variety of activities, such as hiking, swimming, community building, and organized sporting events, including hockey, basketball, and softball. Their free time was filled with leisure activities, such as ping pong and GAGA. One of the highlights of the weekend was a hike up Mt. Stevens, where the boys were treated to a magnificent view of the Adirondacks.
In just a few days at the camp, the boys and their chaperones developed a new appreciation for the outdoors and the beauty of a world outside of their urban environment. Elijah, one of the participants in the program, shares his experience in the video above.
Brant Lake Camp is a private boys camp located approximately 200 miles north of Westchester. The owner directors generously offered their property to host this event. Backyard Sports Cares has been running special summer camp programs for disadvantaged youth with Brant Lake since 2012.