Cecil B. Moore mentors and mentees at Susquehanna Outdoor Adventures Campsite
Cecil B. Moore is DREAM Philly’s first and smallest site. Mentors describe their site as “very close knit,” “high energy,” and “like a family.” A typical DREAM Friday here consists typically of a planned activity like making ravioli, slime, or board games. According to Amanda, one of the co-chairs here, “most of the time, the boys kidnap any male mentor around and go play basketball outside.” Will, one of these male mentors, added, “we know how to have a good time and have fun. Cecil has high energy- we’re always enthusiastic.”
The site has a strong emphasis on village mentoring, with the group coming together each week for programming. The mentors balance village mentoring with one-on-one mentoring by meeting independently with their mentees once a week outside of DREAM Fridays. Amanda reminisced that “I’ve had my mentee and her sister sleepover at my house many times” noting that these one-on-one experiences allow for “building a real world relationship, like a family.” Jasmine, another mentor, echoed this sentiment stating that, “because we’re a small site, we can really make sure our matches are a good match and that they bond often.”
As Temple students, the mentors often have a lot on their plate, but they characterize DREAM as a place to escape. Jasmine explained that “DREAM time helps me feel less stress; when I’m here I don’t have anything to focus on but the kids.”
On April 14th, the group set off to Susquehanna Outdoor Adventures for their high adventure camping trip. Below is Amanda’s recap of the trip.
⭑This trip was a huge success. For the past three and a half years I have been in the DREAM program, we have had a high adventure trip. Every year I challenge myself, as co-chair, to outshine what I did the year before, and I feel like I have been able to do just that.
The first year we did this High Adventure camping trip, none of our mentees (except one) had ever been camping before. That trip we went camping in tents, and went on a hike the next day.
Our second year was another milestone. We did tent camping again but this time we took our kids kayaking. None of them had ever done it before, and most of them did not even know what it was. They were begging us to kayak for longer.
This year, we found a new campsite that has tree house camping on a private island. All of our kids were ecstatic about having to take a boat across the river to get to our treehouses. This was also amazing because our mentees could roam the island at their leisure. This campground also had kayaking and we had booked a 2 hour kayak tour of the river, but weather was not on our side this year. Luckily everyone was having so much fun, no one noticed.
This trip was my absolute favorite. We diversified the type of outdoor cooking we engaged in. The past two years we roasted hot dogs and s’mores. This year we roasted hot dogs and s’mores, grilled kabobs and hamburgers, and roasted loaded potatoes in the fire.
Additionally, we did an egg drop, where each mentee/mentor team made a parachute out of plastic bags, tape, coffee filters, and paper bowls. We went to the top of one of the tree houses, put eggs in the “parachutes” and dropped them. The goal was for the eggs to remain intact. This was crazy fun, and the kids worked so hard on their parachutes, almost no eggs broke.
When it got dark, everyone sat by the fire, freestyle rapping to beats and waving glow sticks around. This was honestly my favorite part of the whole trip because it was not planned or structured, it was just Cecil B. Moore being what it is- a family, full of laughter and teasing and music. I have videos of the raps, but you can barely hear anything over my laughter. Afterwards, everyone settled down into the treehouses for the night, the boys had their own treehouse, and the girls had another.
I asked one of the mentees who had been on every High Adventure trip we have had, Faiza, if she enjoyed the trip. She said, “Yeah I had a lot of fun. It’s fun because we are always laughing.”
This was the best trip we have ever been on, with the best campsite. The wonderful owner of this site, Chris, discounted all of our adults half off and let all our kids camp for free. He also told us that any time we wanted to come back, it will be free. I had every mentor and mentee write him a thank you note.⭑
The high adventure trip is a key element of DREAM’s Theory of Change, which posits that a broadened worldview develops children’s comfort zones and leads to increased constructive risk-taking. High adventure trips like Cecil B. Moore’s provide the children of DREAM the opportunity to expand their horizons and push their comfort zones, resulting in higher self-reliance and confidence. As Amanda reported, the kids were initially hesitant to embark on such a rustic adventure, but by the end of the trip were loving their time in the woods! Congratulations to Cecil B. Moore on a successful high adventure, and shout out to Susquehanna Outdoor Adventure for providing the kids and mentors with an experience they’ll never forget.
Warming up by the campfire
Face masks in the girl’s treehouse
Boating time: The campgrounds are on an island that requires a boat ride to access
Jonah giving Zaria a bear hug!