If you've come here searching for GOALS, you're at the right place. GOALS is now trio expeditions.
In 9 years of youth programming, we have racked up over 80,000 cumulative river miles. That's right - we have rafted from San Francisco to New York - and back - over 14 times. We have run hundreds of rapids, stared up at thousands of stars, and shared millions of thoughtful conversations with our youth participants. We have taught countless lessons - and we've learned a few things along the way.
The most important of these is the discovery of an "inner compass" - those things that truly make us tick. We have helped kids identify theirs, then encouraged them to present it proudly to the world as the driving component of their true, authentic self.
When GOALS was created in 2010 by an educator wanting to do more for his students than he could in the classroom, learning was a key component. In fact, the original GOALS curriculum was tied directly to Colorado Department of Education state standards and benchmarks for instruction in several areas of science, mathematics, language arts, and history. As its' name implies, Get Outside and Learn Something was originally intended to offer standards-based, hands-on, immersive outdoor education opportunities for school groups. Over time, our curriculum has changed. The primary objective of our programs has shifted from academic lessons to life lessons. We're more focused on empowerment and inspiration than we are on science and math. We haven't stopped teaching kids about John Wesley Powell's exploratory journey, but we are more focused on giving them the tools they'll need to navigate their own.
Ultimately, the combination of campfire discussions, canyon thank-you letters, chats on hiking trails, afternoon guide meetings, post-expedition surveys, journal entries, board retreats, and just plain human intuition has lead GOALS to recognize that we simply aren't walking our own walk. "Get Outside And Learn Something" implies academics, while saying nothing about the real growth process or the wild rivers where our unique expeditions occur. Our inner compass has surprisingly little to do with scholastic learning, and certainly nothing to do with soccer - a common inference made by people unfamiliar to GOALS when they first hear our name. Is this name, then, what we should be proudly presenting to the world as the driving component of our true, authentic self?
The answer is no. Our inner compass is fueled by forging authentic connections between the kids we serve and the three things we consider most important - their peers, the planet, and themselves.
We have learned how to effectively utilize the ironic but imperative disconnect from what is becoming an over-scheduled, over-electronified, and thereby under-connected norm for too many of today's kids to call a time-out; to hit reset. We remove them from an increasingly addictive dependence on social media platforms which use algorithms rather than attributes to suggest new "friends" - and we construct genuine relationships based on trust, common interests, and shared experiences. We establish a sense of ownership for the wilderness - not by telling kids why they should care about, protect, and preserve the places we explore, but by bonding them to the experiences and emotions that such places make possible. Finally, we celebrate the sense of power, independence, and joy that comes from living away from the restrictions that large mirrors, small minds, and societal norms build around us and emerging as the people we most enjoy being - our true selves.
We don't believe there's an arena that makes this happen more quickly or effectively than a wild river canyon - but that's just one more component. Thus, since the three important connections we create in every participant is embedded in the rio where our curriculum is delivered, it only seems fitting that we make the switch. If you're an old friend of GOALS, rest assured that nothing is changing - except for the pride and authenticity with which we present ourselves, and perhaps an even more refined focus on the mission - connecting kids to peers, planet, and self on wild rivers.