What is Big Sky Youth Empowerment
Just because a local youth is in a not-so-good environment, or has not been able to be given the opportunities they need or desire to be all they can be does not mean this is the end. That does not have to be the life they have. Just because you’re dealt a hand doesn’t mean you can’t fold it and ask for new cards. That’s what Big Sky Youth Empowerment is all about. Getting teenagers together to discuss life with their peers, and engage in activities to build self-esteem, control of their futures, confidence, critical thinking, community participation, and let’s face it, to have fun. Technically it is called a “group-mentoring” program, and each teen accepted will get a scholarship of $10,000 a year and the opportunity to hang out with and talk to 5 of their peers in the same situations twice a week, as well as taking in the enormous, and wonderful opportunities the great outdoors Montana has to offer.
The youth involved in this program apply online, with a few easy question – though they do tend to get personal. But that’s what it’s all about. Getting personal and into it so that they can get the most out of their opportunity within Big Sky Youth Empowerment. Most kids come from difficult backgrounds, and may not have had the opportunities other kids their age are getting. And that’s what BYEP is for! Making sure intelligent, creative, smart teens can become the intelligent, creative, smart adults they were meant to be through mentoring and social and critical skill development.
Mentors for BYEP are adults who are “relatable” to the youth and can help “bridge the gap between adulthood and adolescence”. Being a teenager is a tricky and simultaneously amazing time in one’s life, and mentors are adults who remember this, know this, and know how to engage with the youth in a way that is informative and helpful, rather than disciplinary or preachy. Volunteer mentors give over 10,000 hours a year in mentoring, and are there to change lives in a fun, challenging way.
Each program lasts somewhere around 12-16 weeks. It has a program manager, 2 co-mentors, and 6 youth participants. The groups meet from 4-7, and address a multitude of different things, but focus on challenges participants may be facing at the time. One day a weekend the groups also meet to have an adventure outdoors somewhere, Montana style.