February 2015

Youth services staff members step outside 'comfort zone' to aid corporations

A Team Development participant takes on one obstacle at the Diakon Wilderness Center.

Diakon Wilderness Center staff members who regularly ask the youths with whom they work to step out of their comfort zones to improve their lives recently had to take their own advice.

Thirteen staffers from Diakon Youth Services' Weekend Alternative, Bridge, Center Point Day, and 30-Day Wilderness Challenge programs attended a two-day professional development program designed to take their group facilitation skills to the next level.

“The purpose of the training was to learn how to transfer what we already know how to do with community groups and social service organizations to business and industry,” says Corey Carothers, executive director. “While it is similar, there are different concepts, language and approaches that we needed to learn so we can help businesses improve their staff and bottom line.”

‘Funds are supporting a cause, rather than simply generating profits.’

Diakon looked to Project Adventure, a Massachusetts-based organization that has been facilitating corporate development and related training for nearly 50 years, to provide the necessary instruction.

“The training helped shift our mindset from working with at-risk youths to successful adults who want to do more,” says Michael Savario, adventure specialist. “We have to think beyond the short programs we do with students and look at the big picture in terms of what business groups are looking for—how to build trust, communication, cooperation, commitment and leadership.”

With the new training under their belts, the Wilderness Center staff members are focusing their efforts on program development and preparing for a grand opening of the Adventure Challenge & Team Development program in May, during which they will showcase their full-service offer.

“We can accommodate anything from a minimum of four hours and 10 participants all the way up to groups of 100-plus,” says Savario. “Business groups can spend the whole day and have meals. If they come from out of town and need to spend the night, we will partner with nearby hotels.”

One of the unique aspects of the business-based program is that proceeds generated through the training will directly support the Diakon Wilderness Center’s range of services for vulnerable youths, adding a decided benefit for businesses' use of the program.

“It is one way for us to strengthen our financial stability and resources to continue our mission for at-risk youths and young adults,” says Carothers. “We believe businesses will respond positively when they understand that their funds are going to support this type of cause, rather than simply generating profit for an organization."


If you are interested in learning more about the Diakon Wilderness Center's unique team-development programs for your business, contact Michael Savario at (717) 960-6722.

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