Teenaged youth participating on the annual 4-H Wilderness
Exploration Trips and Environmental Awareness Winter Weekends, have
indicated a desire to explore environmental issues in more depth than
is possible on the trips.
Youth 12 years and older tend to drift away from traditional organized
Youth must develop the knowledge of basic biological principles, the
awareness of environmental issues, the understanding of the decision
process and potential consequences of actions, to enable them to reach
decisions affecting the quality of life for themselves and others.
National studies and reports on the transition of youth to adulthood
indicate that youth need positive experiences, useful life skills
and increased self-esteem, to develop their full potential and to
contribute to society.
1985, the 4-H Adirondack Guide Program was developed to give youth,
12-19 years of age, the opportunity for advanced level experiences
within the out-of-doors.
The program gives youth the opportunity to gain knowledge in a variety
of areas including forestry, wildlife and fish biology, botany, public
speaking, teaching techniques, leadership skills, woods lore and safety,
compass and map, global positioning system, topographical map software,
first aid and lifesaving and natural resource related careers. The
program is conducted in an informal atmosphere, conducive to building
confidence and self-esteem.
The program is comprised of three levels-Apprentice, Intermediate
and Senior. A field test is held each year in June. Satisfactory completion
of the field test, participation at required events, and completion
of required first aid courses are prerequisite for advancement to
the next level. Skills are acquired through workshops, field experience
and camping trips conducted by licensed Adirondack Guides, Foresters,
Fish and Wildlife Biologists, Forest Rangers and individuals skilled
in the out-of-doors.
The 4-H Adirondack Guide Program is highly dependent upon adult volunteers
including, program advisors, natural resource professionals and first
aid and lifeguard instructors. This commitment by adults also has
the added benefit of enhancing intergenerational experiences, which
strengthen understanding between youth and adults.
Since 1985, 111 teen boys and girls have participated in
the 4-H Adirondack Guide Program. As with any youth program, it is
difficult to quantify long-term impact on the lives of youth.
Sometimes the positive results of a particular program on a youngster's
life are not evident for a number of years. For example, a 4-H member
who, as an adult, comes back into the 4-H program to volunteer as
a 4-H Club Leader, because of the positive experiences gained as a
youth in the program.
Sixteen teens have graduated to the Senior Level. Three of the former
guides have received their license as a New York State Guide. One
of these Guides has been a guide in Alaska.
In 1991, two of the Guides volunteered to serve as advisors on a three
day 4-H Wilderness Exploration Trip for 9-11 year olds. Due to the
Guides' professionalism, and instant rapport with the younger campers,
the teens contributed significantly to the trip's success. In 1992,
the response was similar. As a result, Guides are regularly used on
trips, giving the younger campers positive, teen role models.
Guides have obtained Lifeguard positions as a result of Red Cross
Lifeguard Certifications received through the Guide Program.
The results have been positive-reports back from parents on the positive
influence of this program on their youngsters is testimony that the
program is meeting its goals. Two examples are: (1) A former Senior
Guide was required to participate in a map and compass course as part
of his Air Force basic training. Shortly into the course, it became
clear, to his military instructor, that he already knew the material
being taught. As a result, the former Guide assisted in teaching the
remainder of the class; (2) A Senior Guide was hired as an Alaskan
guide in charge of a 20 person canoe due to his involvement in the
4-H Adirondack Guide Program.