Smith Rock Helps At-Risk Kids Help Smith


May 28, 2017

You may have seen them in the park—young cadets in uniform, marching up Misery Ridge, maybe recently trail-building on the upper Homestead Trail. They are from The Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program (OYCP), the only accredited statewide alternative high school for kids ages 16-18. 

Oregon Youth Challenge Program cadets hike up Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock State Park

Oregon Youth Challenge Program cadets hike up Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock State Park

Oregon Youth Challenge cadets at the Overlook at Smith Rock State Park

Oregon Youth Challenge cadets at the Overlook at Smith Rock State Park

OregonYouthChallengeProgramlogo

The OYCP's vision is to be one of the State’s leaders and premier youth programs serving high school dropouts and those who are not likely to succeed in the traditional high school system while creating economic value, long term cost avoidance, civic contribution and future responsible tax paying citizens of Oregon. 

Park Ranger Josie Barnum can't say enough about the program. "We love it when the OYCP is able to come to Smith Rock and help us with the ever growing demands of park maintenance. Our staff is limited, and these kids really help fill the gap."

We caught up with them in the RV parking lot when Josie was giving direction to have them split donated telephone poles into new fencing for the park. Here's their Platoon Leader describing the day's detail:

Oregon Youth Challenge cadets load truck of split telephone poles at Smith Rock State Park

Oregon Youth Challenge cadets load truck of split telephone poles at Smith Rock State Park

From what we could tell, it was a win-win for both parties. The cadets had a rewarding experience putting their hard work to help the park, and Smith Rock State Park got new fence material, courtesy of OYCP.