Since 1984, the PEAKS (Physical and Environmental Activities for Knowledge and Skills) camp has offered an outdoor adventure focused on life skills, relationship building, and relaxation to youth from foster care working to overcome extraordinary circumstances in their lives.
In 2018, when Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) discovered that funding for PEAKS camp would not be available for the following year, the BCFS System awarded TNOYS a $25,000 grant to help reach the funding necessary to ensure the camp continued to provide this unique opportunity to deserving youth.
“We recognize the importance of a program like TNOYS and make a concerted effort to give back to causes we know are worth the investment in our community,” said Kevin Dinnin, President and CEO of the BCFS System.
Combined with additional donations from the Rothell Charitable Foundation and the Supreme Court of the Texas Children’s Commission, as well as internal funds TNOYS was able to allocate to the camp, PEAKS 2019 went from an uncertainty to a reality.
For four days in March, 50 youth from foster care and 25 adult sponsors enjoyed life outdoors while engaging in activities focused on team building, social skills, and leadership – each venture peppered with a dash of innovative fun.
Shannon Bloesch, Camp Director for the PEAKS program, expressed how the financial and logistic hurdles of setting aside multiple days and potentially hundreds of dollars for a camp similar to PEAKS can turn an enjoyable experience into a near impossibility for youth in foster care. TNOYS is able to help ease or erase some of those disadvantages with the PEAKS program.
“When kids are forced to grow up so fast, they don’t have time to be kids,” said Shannon. “When you have to pay your own bills as a teenager or step in as the parent for your younger siblings, there isn’t always the chance to do something like this.”
While at camp, the youth take part in various courses ranging from low ropes to rock walls, from archery to canoeing. They have nights set aside for special events including a talent show, yoga, and a campfire. However, the most significant part of the camp that youth take with them is the relationship-building that happens with peers and, importantly, with trustworthy adults. Good role models serve as partners in communication and shareholders in success.
Youth in foster care between the ages of 15 and 19 can learn more about participating in the PEAKS program by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out how BCFS Health and Human Services is making differences for youth facing extraordinary circumstances, click here.