Teen Experiential Outdoor Learning
The 7’s Club is a series of week-long summer retreats for ages 16-20 with a focus on building positive relationships with other diverse teens in and out of the state of Vermont. This teen experiential outdoor learning experience involves small groups of older teens with one on one staff mentorship to enhance each participants’ experience.
The 7’s Club is one of three programs we offer under the NatureWorks Initiative: Dragonfly Farm in Tinmouth, Vermont; SAPLINGS afterschool program (K-5th grade); and The 7’s Club based in Brandon, Vermont.
The 7’s Club retreats run from June through August in four week-long sessions. The most important aspect of 7’s Club is that it is designed to introduce participants to new environments and perspectives outside of their personal norms while maintaining a safe and healing environment in the natural landscape of the Green Mountains. This is possible by keeping a small group of no more than six to ten participants at a time and having experienced social workers and former 7’s Club participants working as retreat counselors and/or mentors. The overall goal of The 7’s Club is to begin a story from day one that evolves and ends on our last day. Students’ understanding of their personal life tales, as well as creating new stories that can be taken home with them as a renewal of the Self, is what staff strives for in our interactions with participants.
Welcome to the 2023 summer session of this exciting and innovative teen program! Last year’s session was a huge success for participants and staff, and we look forward to another great summer serving the needs of a variety of teens from Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Vermont. We learned a great deal about the interest for this type of retreat, as well as how to best deliver the service to all potential participants at NO COST to students and guardians. The 7’s Club is completely free of charge and intended to introduce youth to nature-based learning and fun, along with new ways of ‘finding your center,’ the seventh direction in The 7’s Club – the Self.
This summer there are many new activities for students to participate in, particularly those who identify as LGBTQIA+ or an ally. We are LGBTQIA+ friendly and stand for inclusion not exclusion, acceptance not judgment and racism, and most of all, we represent the underdogs and those who may be marginalized by prejudice. If you’re aged 16-20 and in need of finding your center, then consider joining us this summer. We welcome you to what will undoubtedly be a rewarding retreat.
2023 Summer Schedule
Schedule: The retreats will take place during four separate weeks running from June-August. (Please see our brochure for dates and the hot link to sign up!) Participants will arrive on Sunday and leave the following Friday. The program involves five overnights at our Brandon, Vermont site with sleeping bags and air mattresses provided free of charge for students to use. Sleep quarters are divided up by male and female and can be arranged on a case-by-case basis depending on how individual students identify. All sleep time is monitored by night time staff. Privacy is respected, of course, but with oversight.
Eligibility: Those wishing to participate in this program must be screened by staff members to ensure a proper fit. The 7’s Club accepts people of all backgrounds and identities, as well as those who consider themselves allies to marginalized groups as we work in significant ways with LGBTQIA+ communities in and out of Vermont. Semi-strict intake criteria ensures that participants have a safe environment free of systemically oppressive attitudes and actions or drug culture, and have the freedom to exist as oneself without the fear of judgment or harm.
Activities: The 7’s Club is an inclusive, varied and creative youth program designed to create acceptance, self-esteem, PRIDE and confidence in the ‘Self.’ Participants should expect a wide range of activities including horseback riding, swimming, hiking, theater, indigenous storytelling and crafting, shelter building, campfires/cooking horse petting and care, trauma/’deadname’ burning exercises, trail maintenance and field trips to area museums, 3-D printing, group mural art and much more! The 7’s Club is a progressive and highly specialized youth initiative with one goal – uniting diverse youth in a sacred space of compassion and truth.
THE 7’S CLUB WEEKLY SCHEDULE
NOTE: Day One (Sunday) isn’t a full day, and the following Friday morning the retreat ends. This itinerary is based on the summer of 2022 and enhanced for 2023 sessions. The schedule is subject to change and dependent on external factors such as weather, etc.
NOTE: All meals and snacks are included and provided by RCPCC. Specialized diets can be accommodated (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, food allergies).
DAY ONE (Sunday)
Meet and greet introductions at the first sacred fire on the garden hillside
Names and expectations for the next intensive five days of retreat. (Rules and regulations, group norms, sleeping arrangements, meals, personal items and staff wants for participants)
All participants will receive journals, head lamps, pens, water bottles, backpacks and/or waist packs and copies of the week’s activities
Dragonfly Farm for lunch and horse rehab tutorials
DAY TWO (Monday)
Intro to gourd rattles, story sticks and starting to find wood poles for shelter build (tipi)
Intro to outdoor classroom, clubhouse and amphitheater purposes
Intro to nature journaling and the FIRST HIKE (to Falls of Lana), poetry and personal notes about ‘self’ and life goals
Starting the group canvas mural
Second hike of day to WHITE ROCKS
Back to Brandon for supper, journaling and indoor crafting session
DAY THREE (Tuesday)
Breakfast and first cell phone knowledge bombs!
First FIELD TRIP to Shelburne museum
Back to Brandon site for more crafting (rattles & story sticks) as well as finishing tipi build
Continuing with ‘group art mural’ on large painting canvas based on agreed-upon theme TBD by group
Group meeting to discuss talent show/drag or whatever else
Dinner and sleep time
DAY FOUR (Wednesday)
Breakfast and group up for rest of day’s schedule
Second hike to Clarendon Gorge, swimming!
Bring along personal journals (poetry, etc.)
Back to Brandon to garden & craft rattles and story sticks – finish them up!
Group up with staff about talent/drag show that evening!
Dinner and sleep time
DAY FIVE (Thursday)
Everything is coming together to close out week, including final stories around group fire
BIG DAY’s worth of events listed here as:
- Display group mural inside Brandon site for viewing!
- Horseback riding at Mountain Top Stables
- Back to Brandon to prepare for evening fireside storytelling/reveal. The New Self is born!
- Dinner and sleep time
DAY SIX (Friday)
Close out our time together.
Gathering at tipi shelter to say goodbyes and offer our last thoughts.
Before leaving or preparing to leave, students may enjoy whatever they need to do privately
Miscellaneous transportation begins
ALL PARTICIPANTS are given their own photo album as takeaway for their week with us in The 7’s Club summer retreat!
After the retreat…
As we emphasize every year, any of our teens are encouraged to return the following summer to be paid as mentors and/or staff for new incoming participants. All returning participants will receive a stipend.
Parents, guardians, foster parents and/or guardian ad litem or others may contact Christopher Laro at 802-779-6386 for any updates as to date and time changes for the summer 2023 sessions.
The Parent Child Center has been providing educational programs from birth through high school for over twenty years. RCPCC is committed to workforce development in Vermont and carefully pays attention to statewide demographics. Our three NatureWorks programs are geared toward the economic vitalities of students in hope that Vermont will remain or become their home state to work and live.
RCPCC Brandon Community Campus is two acres on 34 Faivre Circle framed by beautiful pine trees. Onsite are three indoor classrooms with food service provided. Outdoor locations include: a clubhouse, student amphitheater (being built), low ropes course (being built), and multiple acres for hiking and forestry. This youth outreach uses TWO farm locations when needed – Tinmouth and Brandon.
Christopher Laro (802) 779-6386 – Program Director