This year marks the 10th anniversary of Mountain Circle Family Services’ (MCFS) PowderQuest program, and what a journey it has been to start this revolutionary adventure with foster youth. Ten years ago, the youth were just 14 years old, and now they are young adults, still returning to this weekend event. When I started this ski/snowboarding weekend 10 years ago, I just envisioned teaching foster youth how to ski/snowboard. I mean we live in ski/snowboarding country and these kids need to learn! And off I started.
Initially, it was so much fun to watch the kids, year-after-year, to learn to ski/snowboard and improve their skills. I have been skiing my whole life, and I am a pretty good skier, and it was enjoyable to watch a certain group of kids each year try to out-ski me. I think this year all of them did! However, what I did not predict was this dynamic –the dynamic of this weekend event becoming a homecoming reunion.
Over the years, I have watched a core group of youth turn 18 and age out of the system. I will not hear from them all year long, however, they all know the third weekend in March is PowderQuest weekend. I have young adults contacting me via Facebook, phone, email—all wanting to return. At Mountain Circle, we are committed to kids long after they leave our care- anyone who goes through a MCFS door, will always be able to return with all expenses paid.
This year nine emancipated youth returned to our PowderQuest weekend, the oldest being 26 years of age. Every single youth is in a healthy place. All are employed, going to college, with some talking about becoming Social Workers. Some have started their own families (one has two young boys, and wants to start bringing his 5-year-old next year to start learning to snowboard!), and another couple, who met on the trip about 6 years ago (now 22 and 23) and have been together since that trip, are talking marriage!
Two of the youth are now employed by MCFS as our Chico Records Manager, and as an employee at our Nu-2-U Store retail store.
Many youth talked about being committed to this trip, how this one weekend has kept them connected and changed their life in the direction it is going now, how they will always be committed to ensuring this trip continues even after I am gone. One word-POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!
Because of our PowderQuest trip, Running with the BearsTM was created too! I had to develop a fundraiser that generated enough funds to sponsor this trip each and every year. MCFS pays for lodging, food, rental, lessons, and lift tickets for up to 30 youth and 6 adults each year. Do the math on that! Again, the runners have made this dream come true and possible, and what a ripple effect PowderQuest has on our most vulnerable youth!
Speaking of fundraising and changing lives… the Running with the Bears Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K 2017 is forming to be another amazing year again! Besides our beloved Steven returning from England, we have registered runners from Moscow, Russia and Hong Kong! Who knew? And for those of you who are new to Greenville and the Indian Valley of Plumas County, well, welcome to the best place in NoWhere! We are excited that most of the PowderQuest youth, including the nine emancipated returnees, have committed to being at the marathon this year to lend a hand. My wish is for you to meet them, shake their hand, and understand the power of your fundraising and your impact on these amazing young adults.
Dr. Shauna Rossington