A response to a changing world, Trail Blazers Academy offers young people comprehensive work-readiness experiences that prepare them to meet the challenges of life, work, and college.
In Spring/Summer 2022, The Academy piloted the Ignite program with a cohort of 30 high school students including Clayton, a rising high school senior. Equipped with 20 hours of pre-Day Camp training as well as access to coaching and wellness support throughout his time as Day Camp staff, Clayton was able to develop into a successful Group Leader. The pilot was a win-win-win! Clayton entered his senior year with a resume-building first time-work experience, Trail Blazers was able to deliver a strong and positive Day Camp program while supporting someone in their first job, and Clayton’s campers had a fun and enriching summer!
More than just a professional development program
We believe that a truly robust and effective workforce development initiative (eg. work/learn programs dedicated to creating pipelines) must live alongside ongoing professional development (eg. skill-training specific to program quality and leadership training needed to rise to senior positions). Therefore we are rethinking professional development and have tailored three pathways to engage and support young people along the various stages of their career journey.
We know that many working families rely on summer camps, after schools, and other youth development programs as part of their childcare and education solution; however many programs are challenged in finding and retaining staff who are equipped to deliver high quality program experiences. Staff matters: they have a direct impact on children’s cognitive and linguistic competencies, school readiness and achievement, and social interactions. When staff are undertrained and undersupported, program quality suffers and the children in the program suffer. The Academy makes it possible for youth programs to serve their communities.
We also believe that nurturing staff, particularly early-stage professionals, is a programmatic end in itself. The 16-21 age range is fraught with many transitions, including: leaving high school, first jobs, choosing colleges, new financial pressures, and new challenges to mental health. We are working to equip young people in this age group with the life skills, practical knowledge, and social capital needed to pursue the path of their choosing and to thrive.