Gateway Mountain Center expands free adventure programs for local underserved youth in collaboration with EPIC Promise

Submitted to the Sun
YEA! Campers from Truckee, Kings Beach and Incline Village enjoy a fun snowboarding lesson at Northstar in April.
Provided/Lisa Favero

TRUCKEE, Calif.— Under-served youth now have additional opportunities for exciting nature-based wellness adventures. Incorporating social and emotional learning with enviro-literacy, the expanded programs are a collaboration between EPIC Promise, a program of the Tahoe Vail Resort Foundation, and Gateway Mountain Center in Truckee. 

An innovator for over 17 years in the application of nature-based methods, enviro-literacy, and therapeutic mentoring, Gateway Mountain Center’s mission is to support young people transforming their lives through experiences that connect them to self, community, and the natural world. 

“We are grateful for EPIC Promise’s steadfast commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of young people, enabling us to reach hundreds of youth in the past year alone,” said Gateway Mountain Center Executive Director Peter Mayfield. “With their critically important support and in collaboration, we’re working shoulder-to-shoulder to overcome the deficit of life-affirming resources for the youth in our community.” 

The partnership between the two organizations aims to help meet the growing need for youth mental health and wellness services in the community, especially among underserved groups. 

Young adventurers from South Lake Tahoe strapping in for more snowboarding following a nutritious lunch provided by Heavenly.
Provided/Lisa Favero

Parents, educators, and care providers are encouraged to learn more about the full range for Gateway Mountain Center’s program in support of the behavioral health of young people in the Tahoe/Truckee area. 

Programs include YEA! Camps, BaseCamp for Adventure, 4 Roots Youth Wellness Center and School Wellness Days, and Whole Hearts, Minds, and Bodies Nature-Based Therapeutic Mentoring. 

Free to youth Basin-wide and open to any young person who might benefit from supportive programming, YEA! Camps teach children about the natural environment and the unique ecosystem around Lake Tahoe, while providing experiential actives like rock-climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and skiing. 

Offered during the school year and running for week-long sessions during the summer, YEA! Camps are the newest of Gateway Mountain Center’s programs for under-resourced youth in the area. 

Launched just two years ago through initial donations from local climbing photographer Cory Rich and various other community members, YEA! Camps have grown to deliver meaningful community impact with the ongoing support of EPIC Promise. 

The fledgling program is going strong. Local youth are participating in remarkable numbers and more YEA! Camps will be offered in the coming year. 

The Base Camp for Adventure camp is free for all middle and high school students, and happens during the school year. Participants gather at the Gateway Mountain Center’s 4Roots Wellness Center to embark on an outdoor excursion- ranging from skateboarding to rock-climbing to skiing and snowboarding- all fun and physically challenging activities that support young people in developing balance and coordination, skills that are correlated with building a secure sense of self. 

The 4 Roots Youth Wellness Center and School Wellness Days provide a fun, educationally-oriented, safe and support space for young people along with a wide range of activities, including art making, outdoor adventures, relaxation on a mindfulness par course, and mindful listening circles. 

The center maintains drop-in hours from 12:30-6 p.m. on weekdays during the school year. 

Center staff also facilitate off-site engagements in the community, in conjunction with wellness days at local schools. Topics they teach include mindfulness, healthy nutrition, social and emotional learning, and substance use education. 

The Whole Hearts, Minds, and Bodies Nature-Based Therapeutic Mentoring is for young people suffering from complex trauma or are in nee of significant emotional and behavioral support. The program is able to deliver mental health care in nature, where participating youth can meet with their mentor in weekly one-on-one sessions that typically center around outdoor activities and adventures. 

With the youth mental health crisis epidemic levels and dearth of local care providers, this innovative and highly effective treatment is crucial for youth in the region. 

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