Alfond Youth Center Hosts 2nd Annual Summer Retreat Program

WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) – The Alfond Youth Center, in partnership with JMG, is launching its second annual summer retreat program. This year, the children participated in choosing the activities that interested them.

“We have fly fishing, Red Cross babysitting certifications, we have a car restoration course,” says Avery Ryan, team program coordinator.

The three-week program was developed last year as a reconnect for students after COVID.

“A lot of them had been on distance learning or a hybrid schedule and the school district came to us and said all of these kids were nervous and needed something to do,” Ryan said.

That year, 76 students enrolled in the program. Now the program has doubled — with over 200 kids involved choosing what they want to do.

“They gave us survey data; we got about 900 responses to that survey, which led us to develop these programs based on what interests them,” Ryan says.

The survey shows that students were interested in culinary activities such as the farm-to-table program offered.

“We’re going into the garden and connecting people to their food systems and today we’re marinating.” Alisha Targonski of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension said.

According to Debbie Barnett, a skill in food preservation is important.

“A lot of us don’t have that extra money to go to the grocery store to buy tons of food every week,” says Barnett, an EFNEP specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

She says learning these skills at a young age is very helpful.

“You can be my age and think back and say thank you God, I learned to do this because I can take care of my family when times are tough,” Barnett said.

These skills and more are why Aurora Valencia – Carter signed up for the program. She says she hopes to teach agriculture one day.

“I hope to win a lot and learn some of the skills I didn’t know how to do…and just have fun,” Valencia-Carter said.

Copyright 2022 WABI. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.