Breckenridge Surf n’ Serve Week

Santa Barbara, California & Breckenridge, Colorado have a lot more in common than people would expect.  Both places boast desirable living communities, host hundreds of thousands of tourists a year, and abound in adventure.  Yet, one stark difference is that Santa Barbara occupies as many homeless individuals as Breckenridge’s total population (about 5000).  We thought we’d take our Breckenridge Young Leaders to Santa Barbara for a week of leadership, service, adventure, and community.

We spent 6 days and 5 evening in Santa Barbara working with various non-profits including People Assisting The Homeless (PATH), Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, and local universities to serve the homeless community.  This meant serving & preparing meals in shelters, helping in provide dinner and new socks to the homeless in the city parks, improving community gardens where food banks find fresh produce, cleaning up graffiti walls, and bringing joy to under-privileged kids through soccer and surfing.  In between our service times, we caught waves, played beach volleyball, took some awesome hikes, and explored a new place together.  In the evenings, we found time to process through the days.

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Three staple questions on CYL Service Adventures are

(1) What did you LOVE about the experience?

(2) What did you LEARN from the experience?

(3) How did you LEAD in the experience or find yourself becoming a better LEADER?

All the students had great answers, grew in leadership and self & social awareness, and here’s just a few.

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“I loved that along with all the fun service projects that we did, we also got time to chill and have fun at the beach.  This time was important because it gave us time to slow down and  think about things for ourselves.  Personally I learned a lot about myself. This trip has actually got me reconsidering where I’m going to school this fall. I also learned a lot about myself and what I believe in and how my beliefs and core values should drive my actions and decisions. I feel like I grew a lot as a leader because I got to experience a variety of service projects and got to see what project situations I am better in than others” (Lizi Anderson, age 18).

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“I loved that we got to experience such a variety of service options all in one place/trip. I loved that everyone got to experience how much fun service can be and how truly learn that they can be a positive impact in the community.  Since this was my second year going to Santa Barbara with CYL, I learned that the same trip can be a whole new experience the second time. I learned how important community support is.  I grew as a leader on this Service Adventure in a lot of ways I think. Since I technically was one of the ‘leaders’ (intern) I got to look at things from a whole new perspective. I saw how leaders work behind the scenes to make the trip flow smoothly. I learned that part of being a leader is adapting to working with other leaders who have different leadership styles. I learned that there will be challenges you have to get through and continue to be a good example through. I learned that you can always learn something from other leader, and from the students!” (Melina Mueller, age 19, CYL summer intern).

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We also thought it would be awesome to share some feedback from one of our non-profit that we supported.

“Thank you so much for all the support that you gave to PATH Santa Barbara this past week. I was truly amazed how much the whole team stepped up to help in the kitchen with prepping food, cleaning and serving lunch. I also have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support on Friday for our open house. I thank you for helping us open our doors to the community. From set up, to helping during the event, to clean up, you all were amazing!  I heard so many comments about the wonderful youth that was helping at the open house. Your hard work did not go unnoticed.”

We had a blast in the ocean, but we are happy to be home in our mountains supporting our community again.  Next CYL Service Adventure?  A camping trip in Breckenridge with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado reconstructing trails this weekend!  Bringing it home!

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