Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Youth Expedition to Ignite (Y.E.T.I.)

Youth Expedition to Ignite (YETI), is a non-school sponsored club that emphasizes the importance of spending time outdoors, “unplugging” from technology, and building relationships within the school. YETI has been known to take in students going through tough times and giving them a happy environment to interact with others. A small group usually consisting of anywhere from 20 - 50 students joins together every Monday night to play games, connect with peers, and share experiences. YETI aims to create an environment where students who share a love for the outdoors and adventuring, can come together and make friends and memories with those that they may not usually hang around in school.

YETI facilitators Travis Tierney, an English teacher here at MBHS, and former Mt. Blue teacher Karen Cyr, help to guide the students, or “Yetians” of the group. “YETI always has been and always will be led by students,” said Travis Tierney. “Karen and I are here in facilitating and mentoring roles.”

So what is YETI? What do they do? “Over twenty years ago several Mt. Blue Teachers, including Mr. Bolduc, Mr. Trefethen, and Mr. Bond believed that some alternative methods such as getting students outside might benefit at risk students. That morphed into an all inclusive group of students that share a love of the outdoors, adventure, and shared experiences,” said Tierney. The group joins every Monday night in the Cascade Brook cafetorium from 7- 8:30 where they play group bonding games and partake in meaningful discussions. Some meetings include hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, going for a walk, or playing games outdoors, but the two main trips are a winter camping trip and a summer paddling trip.The longer trips give students the opportunity to bond with each other in the outdoors.

Group member Julia Ramsey, Mt. Blue class of 2017, spoke about what makes her keep attending YETI: “I love that it’s so many different groups together, people that are usually cliquey in school, or you know in school you just break up into different groups and you just have different classes. You don’t see everyone, and then Monday nights, that’s the chance for everyone to come together and just be kinda like a family and just have a lot of fun together.”

She also mentioned how getting to know people through the outdoors is one of her favorite things about YETI. Tierney also shared the reasoning behind his devotion to the group. “It allows me to break down walls with students literally and figuratively. Shared experiences in the wilderness and outdoors have far exceeded the relationships and bonds I can have with students in the classroom. We both become more human to one another and that teacher/student dynamic gets left behind. It's more real.”

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