As a wilderness program for at-risk youth, celebration and ceremony are a big part of life at RedCliff Ascent (RCA). Staff members have flexibility in how they make sure that special days are kept special. However, over the more than two decades RCA has been helping troubled youth, RCA has developed a few traditions. Many of these traditions involve having special treats for special days.
When the air becomes crisp, the leaves turn color, and pumpkin spice flavored things return to the stores, people start thinking about celebrating Halloween. RCA is no exception.
“We usually send out candy with the staff. We have also done face paints, and we've sent out pumpkins and carving kits so they can carve a couple of pumpkins for each group,” said Scott Schill, Development Director.
In addition, students will get the ingredients to cook a pumpkin for pumpkin pie filling in their pots, complete with whip topping, of course.
When a student has a birthday at RCA, staff and other students try to make the day special. One of the ways to accomplish this is to give the student a treat. Typically, the treats are Ding Dongs or other packaged treats that students can easily take into the field.
“We always give it to the birthday child with the instructions that they are free to eat it all themselves or they can share it with their group. We have had students eat them all, but they are rare. In most cases, the joy of the event is enhanced by the person being in a position to share with the others something they can't get for themselves,” said Scott.
Students also get special treats during Easter. Usually, they get candy and peeps. Sometimes, individual staff members organize Easter egg hunts and other activities.
The treat that students enjoy on Independence Day is ice cold watermelon. The staff cut up the watermelon while it’s still on the back of a pickup truck, then serve it to the kids. Some staff members bring copies of the Declaration of Independence, which they read to the students.
“One year, I ordered flags of the various countries represented in our field, which included, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Bermuda, Australia, and Great Britain. I took the students' photos with their respective flags,” said Scott. “It wasn't necessarily their Independence day, but they were appreciative nonetheless.”
Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are also special days at RCA. They will be described in a future article.
The real treats that students enjoy during the holidays are not food. They are spending time in the field with peers and enjoying the beauty of nature.