Outdoor Odyssey: The Experience of a Lifetime

Outdoor Odyssey Representatives Recruit New Members

“You don’t have a choice but to deal with the insecurities you have about yourself. It’s an amazing experience.” – Tyler Mears


“As long as you have genuine concern, you can be a good leader and make a difference in a child’s life,” said Spencer Hill, counselor and speaker for Outdoor Odyssey, a camp that works with high school students to become mentors to young children throughout the area.
Spencer Hill and Gail Hepler spoke to all US History II classes on Friday, March 13 to get students interest in the program and also make them aware of what the organization is about, and what their goals are.
The organization helps kids throughout Western Pennsylvania develop a strong bond with someone they look up to. It provides a role model for the students, and helps them to get advice from people who can relate.
The process of becoming a mentor to a child begins with attending the week long, leadership academy. Students are challenged with different outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip lining, overnight backpacking, rock climbing, etc. The challenges force teens to work together to accomplish a common goal, the courses and activities cannot be completed alone.
“Sometimes, people feel stuck, but our goal is to teach you to be there for one another, and to lead together. All the activities we provide require students to work together and be challenged,” said Spencer Hill. “The camp forces you to open up to people, to break the ice between between cabin mates, it really lets you find out what’s really on the inside of a person,” said Hill. The experience also provides a great deal of trust.
“You don’t get a choice but to deal with the insecurities you have have about yourself. It’s an amazing experience, I highly recommend it,” said senior, Tyler Mears.
“Inspiration is sharing yourself with someone else, breaking the ice and sharing yourself…when you do that, you inspire others as well,” said Hill.
The other aspect of leadership camp is courses on what it takes to be a leader. Students will be trained to be the best leader they can be and encouraged to develop their own leadership skills. “The camp prepares you to be a leader in life,” said Hill.
After graduation from leadership academy, students will be matched up with a young child from their area. They will become a mentor to the child and will meet back up with them at the camp for one week out of the summer. Mentors are matched to children depending on the compatibility of their leadership style with what the child requires. “Kids will trust, look up to you, and want to spend time with you,” said Hill.
After spending a week with their kid, mentors will then keep in touch and meet up with their munchkins/munchinettes for baseball games, ice cream and movie dates, any fun thing just to catch up with each other. “We go out to eat and get ice cream. He comes over and we play X-Box. It makes his whole week,” said senior and current mentor, Tyler Mears.
“You’ll really be impacting the children’s lives, and that’s great, but you’ll also be impacting your own. You will learn so much just being around the children, probably as much from them as they’ll learn from you,” said Hill.
The experience also helps with colleges, internships, and even jobs. “When colleges and businesses see this on your resume, they’ll know you have the ability to lead a group of people, and that ability is one of the most remarkable life-skills you can have,” said Hill. Outdoor Odyssey also helped senior Tyler Mears get into the Naval Academy, “They really liked seeing that on my resume, having leadership experience is very helpful in the Navy,” said Mears.
Senior Jake Taylor, also appreciates the mentor experience. “You’re going to help this kid. You learn about yourself, about others, and how to be a leader. There’s so many good memories that go with it,” said Taylor.
“It’s more than just summer camp, you learn to be a better person, a better leader, and develop more of an appreciation for trust, you can’t come back without a changed perspective,” said Hill.