Patterson Unified School District students have something fun to look forward to over the summer where they can learn about the diverse environment around them as part of the Teen Outdoor Survival Skills class now being offered by the city of Patterson.
The free program, available to sixth through 11th-graders who attend any school within Patterson Unified School District, currently has 42 registered teens on their roster. So far, the program can accommodate 90 students, meaning there is plenty of space to get a group of peers together for an eventful summer of fun in the great outdoors.
The Fun has Already Begun
T.O.S.S. students received their first taste of what the program will entail during a hike at Frank Raines Regional Park in the hills of the Diablo Range west of Patterson on Saturday, May 3.
“They loved it!” city of Patterson parks and recreation specialist Johnny Nguyen said about their first excursion. “It looked like some of them had never been outdoors before. Only one had been to Del Puerto Canyon before, and only just recently.”
Nguyen, who recently answered the City’s request for an outdoor specialist, is no stranger to both the outdoors, or to helping the area’s youth reach their potential, both physically and mentally. He grew up fishing and camping in the San Jose area before moving to Patterson in 2006, eventually coaching the Ravens and the Junior Warriors youth sports teams.
“The cool part was learning about the history of Del Puerto Canyon, the mining history of Frank Raines Park itself, how it was dedicated, and educating the kids about the landmarks around them,” Nguyen said.
The program is fully funded by a grant offered by the Foundation for Youth Investment, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that sees the need to get the youth connected with nature.
“Outdoor experiences transform young lives. These experiences help to increase academic achievement, reduce obesity, teach teamwork and cooperation, prepare people for the workforce, and develop the environmental stewards of tomorrow,” according to the foundation’s mission statement.
The City’s parks and recreation department received a similar grant in the past, and reworked the educational component and utilized the strength in the partnership between the city and the Patterson Unified School District to help secure the grant funding, said Jason Hayward, Patterson’s recreation coordinator.
“Learning survival skills is real important, especially in the rural areas. Outdoor education, making fire, those are the things that everybody wishes they knew cause you never know when you need to use it,” Hayward said of the program.
Youth participants have already become CPR certified as part of the program, and eventually will become certified in wilderness first aid, which will require the students to utilize materials from their surroundings to make things like a splint to help stabilize a broken bone.
During future excursions, planned monthly through October, participants will be able to take part in activities such as animal tracking, fishing, basic cooking, water survival, basic fire making skills, and shelter making, amongst other things.
While locations have yet to be determined for some of the future excursions, Nguyen is already busy scoping out locations such as the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge north of Grayson, Caswell Memorial State Park near Ripon, and hopes to culminate the program in October with a camping trip in Yosemite National Park.
For questions, to register, or more information on the program, contact the Patterson Parks and Recreation Department at 895-8080.
Elias Funez can be reached at 892-6187 or email@example.com.