In recent months, Fundación Aventura has been presented with a series of opportunities to expand our influence and ability to help raise up youth, not just in Bolivia, but beyond. Thanks to seemingly random conversations, we are developing a strategic partnership and have been asked to conduct two trainings for other organizations in Latin America. What surprises me is that I went looking for none of these things; they came to us. I simply had to make a decision to accept or reject these opportunities. The first to come was the developing partnership with Fundación Esperanza, a local non profit that runs two orphanages for boys in Cochabamba. I met the director, TJ, at the international church, and thanks to conversation during a Super Bowl game neither of us was really watching, he has signed up his boys to be the next to “suffer” with Fundación Aventura (this term was used with glee and much enthusiasm by the pequenos at the outset of our recent hike into the hills). We are currently finalizing the activity plan to work with his boys, and I anticipate starting work before the end of the month! This constitutes our second and third orphanage; Fundación Aventura is officially expanding! (and if you go by orphanages, expanding by 300%)
The second opportunity came even more unexpectedly as I was asked to join the NCC team to Colombia, in part to conduct a training there for two local organizations, Funesjo and Redeeming Grounds. Despite our more than 4 years in developing best practices for adventure therapy in Bolivia, I didn’t really think the foundation was at a place to offer trainings. It seems I was wrong. NCC flew me to Colombia at the end of June, where I shared our experiences in creative youth outreach, and helped give a workshop on organizational building. Judging by the way people were taking notes, the training was effective and useful. In addition, the director for Funesjo, a young man named Jans (Hans), has asked to come and observe how we operate sometime in the coming months. Please pray he can come up with the funding to visit Bolivia so we can continue to cross-polinate our programs and make them grow! Opportunity number three totally caught me off guard. There I was, riding shotgun in an old Land Cruiser on the way to La Paz for the weekend, when Jose Luis, Director of Camp Kewiña (where we used the zipline and climbing wall in January for two adventure groups) suddenly launched into a pitch offering a strategic partnership that would greatly benefit Fundación Aventura. It sounded so good I figured there was probably a catch so I just heard him out and waited to consult with our advisory committee. Anna and I met with him again just last week to get a better understanding of the relationship being proposed, and we are all for it. Essentially, Camp Kewiña wants to make sure their facilities are used to reach kids who need it most but can’t afford it; i.e. the ones we work with. In exchange we would have free access to their incredible facilities and equipment! Please pray for approval from the Kewiña board of directors next month once we get the partnership on paper.
Lastly, God willing I will be leaving for Argentina next week to conduct another workshop at a regional meeting of the Latin American Camp Association. This is the organization that certifies camp organizations throughout the hemisphere, and the meeting will provide an opportunity to connect with many other organizations in South America. I’m excited for yet another chance to explain what we do, and how we do it, to people who actually have the potential to start programs of their own where Fundación Aventura wouldn’t be able to reach for many, many years. Through these trainings, we have the chance to benefit hundreds more youth indirectly through partners. I’m also excited to spend a week with likeminded people and get a little time outdoors!
So lots of blessing in a short amount of time! However, due to the unforseen nature of these opportunities, we have not planned for them financially, and in order for me to participate in the workshop in Argentina, I need to raise 200 dollars for transportation there and back (the actual cost of my participation in the conference is waived since I am giving one of the workshops). Please let me know if you’d like to cover all or part of this need!
In addition, the paperwork for the Foundation has hit another roadblock, and one that at this point seems like something to go around rather than over. We discovered that the legal proceeding to register on a national level requires a baseline investment of $8,000, a sum that we simply do not have at this point. We are all set to file on a state level, but this will restrict our activities in other states, where we currently hold camps and would like to offer our services in adventure tourism as well. I really appreciate your prayers either for provision of the missing $8,000, or for peace and favor in deciding to simply file at a state level and to attempt to expand later on. Meanwhile, as opportunities for partnerships and administrative hassels swirl in the background, we’ve been able to coordinate a few adventure activities with the BLC. Last weekend the pequenos enjoyed a half day hike up into the mountains, and we filled the afternoon with hours of climbing and rapelling on the tower. It was such a blessing to see the boys fully engaging, helping one another with harnesses, belaying each other, taking pictures, shouting encouragement to guys stuck on the wall, and helping to set up and take down the tower equipment. The pequenos must have grasped the gist of my telling them “you’re supposed to be sweating” on our last adventure, because this time they literally ran up the first section of the trail yelling, “we’re going to suffer!” I’m still laughing.
We had lots of first time rappellers (yes, it’s a word!) on the wall this time, with Rogelio being our youngest at age 12. “I want to go down that way,” he declared after reaching the top. I wasn’t really sure how to respond, as I wasn’t sure of his ability and didn’t want a security situation I would regret later. But he listened intently as I gave him instructions and sailed down that wall like a champ! Another moment I was proud of was when little Edwin watched from the ground as his older brother Wilder rappelled down. Love how these activities provide a scenario for the boys to show their stuff and be role models for the younger ones. The confidence and responsibility they have developed throughout the program pays dividends as it is passed down. I love this work!