For the Cumberland Times-News
MCHENRY — A group of 12 Garrett County high school students has been biking, rafting, hiking, fishing, swimming and climbing to new heights under the supervision of the professional staff of the Garrett College Adventuresports Institute’s Transition Age Youth program.
The students participated in the program beginning in the eighth grade and have the opportunity to return each summer until they graduate from high school.
Mike Logsdon, director of the Garrett College ASI, explained the evolution and purpose of the program.
“TAY is funded through a grant from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, administered locally by Garrett County Core Service Agency. Its purpose is to provide Garrett County youth with meaningful experiences in self-discovery and growth using adventure sport activities to foster cooperation, respect, trust, honesty and compassion. This occurs in an atmosphere of positive decision making, improved communication skills and with the encouragement of critical thinking and problem solving,” he said.
Scott Richardson, who has coordinated the TAY program since 2005 in cooperation with the Garrett County Board of Education and Garrett County Core Service Agency, spoke about the services offered to students. “We assemble a team of professional staff and students from the Adventuresports Institute at Garrett College to provide exciting adventure activities while placing top priority on safety. TAY participants are instructed in the proper use of equipment and proper techniques associated with adventure sport activities. Watching the growth of these students from eighth grade as they move through high school, seeing their improvements in self-confidence and self-esteem when participating in the TAY program is extremely rewarding. The older TAY students have a positive relationship and become role models with the younger students throughout the summer program,” he said.
ASI staff member Sharon Elsey has worked with the TAY program since its inception in 2001. She said that she has seen the development and growth of the students who participate.
“They learn about compassion, trust, team work, respect and honesty, while doing things out of the box and expanding their comfort zones. You can sense in these kids a feeling of pride and a rise in self-esteem when they have just finished climbing a sheer cliff or rafting a class 3+ rapid. I think they also benefit from just being a part of a team and sharing in the laughter,” she said.
Anyone interested in learning more about TAY activities and student eligibility may contact the program coordinator at 301-387-3323.