Southmoreland Senior High School has numerous extracurricular activities for students. From marching band to the baseball team to the spring musical. One activity that is typically overlooked is the Big Brother/Little Sister-style volunteering program called “Outdoor Odyssey.”
Outdoor Odyssey was created by T.S. Jones, a retired marine corps veteran. He began Outdoor Odyssey because he was heavily impacted by a mentor he had as a young boy. Jones’s time in the marine corps gave him the experience to develop a unique approach to team building and leadership.
Many school utilize Outdoor Odyssey as a club as it counts as community service, but for most students, it’s more than just community service hours.
“We help guide kids because they may not have many friends and we can help them gain self esteem and to have confidence in themselves,” said Morgan Brown, a Southmoreland participant in Outdoor Odyssey. “These kids may not have a good household or another positive influence in their lives so being a positive influence will help them have a better outlook on life and a better future.”
Outdoor Odyssey utilizes physically strenuous team building exercises, such as kayaking and rock climbing, forcing kids to think clearly and set their minds on a goal. These activities are designed to mentor give assistance to the kids they are mentoring. According to their official website, these activities “…challenge them and teach them what it means to be a leader more than what any class or seminar ever could.”
The 10-day summer camp experience is meant to not only help the kids being mentored but also the student mentors themselves. The camp’s mission is to “provide students with an unforgettable experience that will teach them skills they will use for the rest of their lives.”
Despite the hard work and dedication it takes to participate, it is a rewarding experience for the mentors in the program.
“Being able to connect with these kids who need my help and seeing their smiles at the end of the day is amazing.” says Morgan Brown.
Though they only accept 150 mentors at a time, Outdoor Odyssey is always open to “fresh faces” in the program.