The PEAKS (Physical and Environmental Activities for Knowledge and Skills) Adventure Program has been transforming the lives of its participants since 1984 when a group of youth care workers and young people from shelters, halfway houses, and juvenile justice agencies partnered with Texas Network of Youth Services to create an intensive residential camp experience founded on best practices in youth development theory. PEAKS participants have traditionally been youth dealing with at-risk situations who come to camp along with adult sponsors, such as their caseworkers, youth agency partners and/or foster parents.
The PEAKS camp program helps youth build resiliency skills through structured experiential learning and positive interactions with adults and youth peers. Camp helps youth enhance feelings of self-worth, build relationship skills, learn to take safe risks, practice problem solving, and discover their strengths and limitations. Campers then function better in their daily lives and have improved life outcomes. This creates opportunities for youth to develop meaningful relationships with adults, and for sponsors to gain hands-on training for working with youth in an equal partnership. Professionals earn continuing education credits at camp and leave with new knowledge and tools to apply to their careers.
The PEAKS Adventure incorporates typical camp experiences such as ropes courses, swimming and water activities, creative arts and drama, nature hikes, canoeing, and archery with daily group processing activities and journal writing to help the participants appreciate the emotional impact of the daily activities and overall experience. The groups work together to promote team building, trust and relationships and develop a strong collective identity through shared challenges and achievements.
What makes PEAKS unique?
- PEAKS has more than 30 years of experience successfully transforming the lives of its participants, as demonstrated through extensive pre and post evaluation measures based on the 40 Developmental Assets.
- The PEAKS curriculum is based on research on youth development and experiential learning and draws from established theories on adventure-based counseling, group therapy, and youth-adult partnerships.
- PEAKS carries a 30-year legacy of volunteer staff commitment and support. PEAKS is staffed by trained, experienced, and talented individuals with a variety of different backgrounds and youth services experience with a passion for the PEAKS model and for changing the lives of young people.
- The positive PEAKS camp atmosphere fosters trust, self-reliance, youth/adult partnerships, and constant self-examination.
- PEAKS is designed based on the belief that opportunities for structured experiential learning and positive interaction help develop skills that can be applied to daily life and ultimately improve life outcomes.
- PEAKS is designed for young people who may lack other important developmental opportunities and a sense of normalcy. More often than not, PEAKS is the first and only camp young people will attend. Youth in foster care especially often miss opportunities that promote development, including extra-curricular activities, meaningful friendships, and life milestones.
- Adult participants (sponsors) receive in-depth hands-on training while attending camp. Through PEAKS, TNOYS couples training services with a direct service program for young people.
TNOYS is currently offering PEAKS camp programming for youth who are in foster care in Texas during spring break week at no cost through a contract with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. To register a young person for camp, please contact his or her CPS caseworker. TNOYS also offers customized PEAKS programming for community-based organizations for a fee. For more information about this service, please contact Elizabeth Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org.