Get Out Stay Out!
A couple years ago I began working with the migrant youth in my community. Their fears, insecurities, and internalized shame were all so similar to me. They were mine.
It tore my heart apart to know that in my community there were kids growing up ashamed of their culture, their roots, their skin tone. I thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that I could fight against this by giving them a safe space where leaders and mentors who looked like them, spoke like them could come together to play, explore and be shamelessly goofy, wild and silly in the outdoors. The outdoors offered the perfect environment to foster this intrapersonal growth.
It started with one hike, five volunteers, and 18 elementary aged kids. It was slow and chaotic but absolutely magical. Kids ran and laughed and played and when we sat down for lunch we talked about the hard stuff: facing discrimination and bullying at school, the need to belong and the judgment people place on them simply for the way they look. It was at this time that I realized how transformative the outdoors can be for underserved youth. Talk about a fulfilling dream job! The next month came and we did it again. This time we drove 15 mins for a beach hike and discovered that over three-quarters of our kids had never been to the ocean!
By this time pictures of what we were doing started to be shared and emails and questions started pouring in. Me start a nonprofit? NEVER! I haven’t even finished college, let alone managed an organization. A couple months later after countless coffees, bitten fingernails, and pep talks Get Out Stay Out applied for 501(c)(3) non profit status and…WE GOT IT! Now about a year in I’m still pulling my hair out from the stress, we're still a controlled chaos when we go outdoors, and we’re still changing lives one trail at a time.
Get Out Stay Out is more than just a saying, it’s our motto. We want our kids to be able to explore the outdoors as much as possible. That means in addition to planning trips we're tackling financial and physical barriers that prevent kids from getting outside. Get Out Stay Out is committed to serving the Santa Barbara community. You can learn more and find ways to get involved at getoutstayout.net or vamosafuera.org!