In addition to its educational and counseling efforts, LaSalle School in Albany offers a recreation program, which many of the youth say is the favorite part of their stay.
The program is more than just fun and games, however. It serves to introduce students to alternative ways of spending free time, helps them develop goal-setting skills and persistence, challenges them to support each other through difficult tasks, helps enhance self-esteem and build comfort with and trust in the group, and educates them about outdoors, emphasizing low impact on the environment and the wonder and beauty of nature.
Recreational activities include indoor rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing and swimming, camping, canoeing, caving, rock and ice climbing, white water rafting, and skiing.
Jack Mulligan and Alex Muller are recent college graduates serving as LaSallian volunteers who work in the recreation program. Both attended St. Mary's College of California, a Christian Brothers School, and both are natives of that state.
They've taken the youth camping both in warm weather and in the winter, and have seen the young people develop new skills on these trips.
"The experiential learning has blown me away," said Mr. Mulligan. "We take a group of kids and get them through a high-elements ropes course. I get an adrenaline rush."
Knowing about the lives of the boys they work with can be difficult for the volunteers. Said Mr. Muller, "Sometimes, I question where's God for all of these kids. Then I think we're showing them there are people who help and who care. We're the only ones who show hope in their lives."
Mr. Mulligan agreed, saying: "Their situations are a lot worse than I ever thought. But the kids are more resilient. Mostly, they're just kids, especially in the one-on-one situations. I've had a blast working with them." (MM)