My name is Ralph Wagley and I am the Therapeutic Activities Coordinator here at Auberle. For the past four decades, I have taken kids on activities, sporting events and camping trips all across the country. But, I have to say, my latest camping retreat with our 412 Youth Zone youth ranks in the top three, if not the number one trip of all time.
It all started with the planning process. After months of meeting with the Youth Zone, I was asked to take the lead and enlist the help of the Youth Zone coaches. They did an absolutely extraordinary job and participated in group sessions and activities with the youth—from teaching them how to hook bait and cast their fishing lines to preparing food and helping me with various team-building exercises. I just wanted to say thank-you again to all the youth coaches and our night monitors for making sure that our youth not only had a great experience but also felt comfortable and safe.
As we were leaving camp, we had everyone in a circle (staff and youth) for our final “meeting/processing group.” They talked about what they liked most and what they got from this experience. What struck me most was the staff input and what the youth said, “We would like to do it again!” I also want to say how grateful and polite the youth were. They thanked staff for everything, even when they were simply helping the youth roll up their sleeping bags. Prior to the trip, the Youth Zone staff had purchased brand new sleeping bags for each youth to keep! I mentioned to the staff, as we were packing to head back to Pittsburgh, how they had made an impact on these youth. Occasionally, I will come across a kid in the community and the first thing they say is, “Mr. Ralph, do you remember the trip that you took us on?” Because this trip was so perfectly planned out and executed, it was our clients that greatly benefited. I am sure that someday a member of our staff will hear those words from a past client.