Jackson Hole Leadership Program

Jackson Hole Leadership Program sign-up begins Monday, February 3rd

Jackson Hole Leadership Program (JHLP) is a summer program for Teton County children grades 5th through 10th. The program teaches outdoor and problem-solving skills, and helps build positive peer relationships and effective communication. JHLP is open to all community youth.

We’re excited for the 2020 summer programs! Registration for this year’s JHLP opens at 9am on Monday, February 3rd. Please share with any parents who may be interested in joining us this summer.

If you have any questions, please email leadership@tyfs.org

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Jackson Hole Leadership Program

New Bike Program at Red Top

New Bike Program Red Top
New Bike Program at Red Top Teaches Many Lessons
The obvious metaphor a bike presents is that of a vehicle. However, it can also be a tool, an adversary, a teacher, or a relationship. It truly is all those things and more. Biking presents the invitation to move beyond our perceived limitations, build a new definition of “what is possible”, and learn from immediate feedback provided by a non-judgmental source, the trail. Biking has several therapeutic benefits. While biking we confront fears, apply coping skills, practice problem solving, and improve our emotional regulation and tolerance.
Red Top Meadows students just wrapped up a successful mountain biking season. This was the first full season for Red Top students to get out and spin the tires on a fleet of Specialized Bikes donated to RTM through a grant with the Specialized Foundation, recently re-branded as Outride. Outride is nonprofit organization that provides evidenced-based cycling interventions to improve social, emotional, and cognitive health. Outride is a national program aiming to increase accessibility to cycling through both fun and sustainable school cycling programs. And through these programs—along with the research—they hope to advance the understanding of how riding bikes can help improve the social, emotional, and physical wellbeing of children, with a particular focus on those with learning differences like ADHD.
Each student was assigned a bike at the beginning of the season and were given the responsibility to maintain it properly. Students had to make sure they kept the bikes clean, and learned some basic bike maintenance to keep their bikes in working order.
During physical education class, our students learned the essential skills necessary for handling and riding a bicycle safely. Focus was given to balance, gear shifting, turning, and tracking what’s upcoming on a trail. Gradually students progressed from pavement to gravel roads and then from gravel roads to single-track. Throughout the course of the season students started to put together the benefits that getting good exercise could have on their ability to engage and manage themselves in the classroom.
During free time our students and staff worked together to create about a mile-long single track around the property. Once the on property single track was completed, the bike program really began to thrive. Students, of varying skill level and ability, were given the freedom of going at their own pace and were able to challenge themselves by riding hot laps around the property. With advancing skills and increased physical fitness, students started to explore further onto some of the trails that are part of the Munger Mountain trail network.
We hope that our students will take the lessons learned through our bike program back home with them when they return to their communities and hopefully continue to explore the world through riding bikes! Special thanks to JD Haas for providing much needed bike maintenance guidance and fleet checkups throughout the course of the season. We also want to express gratitude to Hoback Sports for helping us get our program off the ground.
by Teddy Nichols, Wilderness Program Director

Reducing Stress in Children’s Daily Lives

Reducing Stress in Children’s Daily Lives

Back-to-school season — we all know it well. And even though children and parents are often thankful for the familiar routine of the school day, the transition from summer back to school can create stress. Kids are just as susceptible to this stress as parents, but sometimes it harder to see in our children.
Children display stress much differently than an adult does as their communication skills are less developed and their coping mechanisms not established. Recognizing specific behaviors can help parents support their children through the stressful time and increase the child’s confidence in future stressful situations. The following are potential reactions children may have to stress:
• An increase in oppositional behavior
• Loss of interest in things the child normally enjoys
• Changes in eating patterns
• Regression in behaviors like clinginess or frequent crying
• An increase or decrease in energy levels not due to an illness
It is normal for children to go through phases where life may seem more difficult, providing some simple structure and guidance can assist the child in moving through the phase. Teaching your child stress management techniques can build self-esteem.
Communicate. Try to generate an open environment and create opportunities for your kids to express themselves. Parents can facilitate these openings by asking straightforward, non-threating questions about school, friends, classmates, and teachers. It can even be as simple as, “How are you feeling?”
Eat Healthy. We’re all on the run and once school starts, it is harder to keep track of everything our kids are eating. But a healthy body is one that is better equipped to withstand stress.
Encourage Physical Activity. They don’t have to be flying down the slopes or getting in aggressive activity, but regular exercise can help with health and, especially, with mental health. A daily walk or bike ride can help them sort out their thoughts- and feel better about themselves.
Establishing a Bedtime Routine. Work on getting your child in the routine of going to bed at ‘school time’ and waking up accordingly. The Mayo Clinic states that school-aged children need 10-11 hours of sleep, in comparison to adults who need 7-9 hours. A sleep deprived child will be a child who has less energy for school and activities and will need time to make-up for their sleep deprivation.
Listen. Learning to listen to your child and their needs is a skill developed throughout parenthood and is unique to each child. As a parent it is easy to give advice and not hear what your child may be saying about their perspective on what is happening in their daily life. Taking moments to hear your child’s perspective is a great way to understand what the sources of the stress may be and how you as a parent can best support and show your love for your child.
Matia Wilson

Staff Highlight: Matia Wilson

Matia is a Therapist for the Van Vleck Group Home and Crisis Shelter in Jackson, Wyoming. She was born in Shrewsbury, VT and attended the University of Vermont, majoring in both Psychology and Anthropology. The day after college graduation, Matia moved to Jackson to guide horseback rides in Grand Teton National Park.

In 2015, Matia went back to graduate school at the University of Wyoming and received her Master’s in Social Work. During her search for an ideal job, Matia was drawn to work at the Van Vleck House because of TYFS’s strengths based approach and community involved atmosphere. She enjoys helping kids and their families create meaningful connections and rebuild relationships with themselves and those around them. A sincere thank you to Matia for all she does at TYFS!

Registration is open for 22nd Annual TYFS Golf Tournament

Register now to enjoy some early season golf and raise funds to support children and families in our community. Join us on June 25th at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club for the 22nd annual Teton Youth and Family Services Golf Tournament. An entry cost of $300 (or $1,000 for a foursome) gets you lunch, golf cart rental, green fees, post-golf reception, and an event gift bag.

Register Now

Social and Emotional Skill Building

With the start of the school year upon on us many parents begin to shift focus towards best supporting their child’s academic achievement. Social and emotional skills play a fundamental role in academic outcomes, as well as promoting positive behaviors and  mental health. The following are some tips for parents to engage in this learning process. The good news is that our schools are already heavily invested in social and emotional learning. The best news? Lifelong outcomes to promote educational success while reducing problems associated with substance use, criminal activity, and mental health.
By helping kids manage their emotions we are preparing them to learn. We can help by acknowledging their emotions and then finding ways to increase their emotional literacy and feelings of self-control by having them name their emotions. Then we can model empathy by putting ourselves in their shoes, validating their feelings, and not jumping in to rescue them. As much as we want to protect our kids don’t we really want to send the message that they are able to solve their own problems? That we trust them and they can trust themselves.
By acting as consultants, we can unpack our own conflicts by taking responsibility for our emotions, teaching the valuable lesson that only one person is responsible for how we feel and how we handle those feelings. By sharing our own calming strategies (deep breathing, counting, taking a break to cool off before returning to the problem, etc.) we are not only modeling the process, but that we are actively identifying our own patterns so that we can grow too.
Whether we are trying to instill self-regulation, improve attention and focus, or cultivate problem solving strategies, the basis of social and emotional development is in trusting relationships. The Hirschfield Center for Children can help families foster relationships built from a place of worthiness – from there the possibilities are endless.

WHY THE JACKSON HOLE LEADERSHIP PROGRAM IS MEANINGFUL ….but don’t take our word for it

As we finish our last month of the Leadership Jackson Hole Program we thought we would share how meaningful this has been for youth in our community. Thank you to the parents of the students who have participated for entrusting us with your child and thank you to the donors who have helped provide funding to keep this program affordable!

“Jackson Leadership Camp has offered our son the ability to grow as an individual and to explore the amazing place we get to call home. Isaac looks forward to camp each year as one of his summer highlights and returns energized with a stronger sense of self worth and an ability to overcome challenge. The leaders have always taken the time to recognize and build on the attendees strengths and individual abilities. I   appreciate the way the leaders focus on each child as a truly unique individual and that they have the knowledge and training to bring out the best in our son.” 
—JHLP camper’s parent 
“Leadership camp for me has been the best experience in my whole life! The counselors are so supportive and never put pressure on us kids if we don’t want to do something. For example, the first year I did the camp we went to the Journey’s School to do the ropes course and team building activities. When it was my turn to do the ropes course I was totally and completely petrified – but they helped me through it!”  
-Camper Issac

How Do We Shift into Summer?

Much the same as for families, shifting from the school year to summer time brings changes in activities, work schedules and  supervision requirements at Teton Youth and Family Services. Children have more free time that gets filled with varied commitments for sports, jobs, camps, and activities.
Our Leadership Program, for any middle school students, is in full swing starting on June 18th. Youth spend a week doing outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking, ropes course and/or backpacking all of which involve getting to know, trust and work with a varied peer group.
The Van Vleck House Group Home and Crisis Shelter have a  productive and fun schedule that fills each day. Some students have jobs or other activities in the community. All of which keeps the staff and students extra busy.
While School continues until mid-July at Red Top and is followed by a 24-day wilderness trip, the daily activities shift from skiing and broomball to jogging and soccer with outdoor duties shifting from shoveling to gardening.
Summer at Red Top also brings the opportunity to take seven young men who are not residents at RTM, but have exhibited dysfunctional behaviors at school or in the home, on a 21-day backpacking trip. This incredibly valuable experience is made possible by a generous grant from the Geraldine W. and Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.
The activities and daily schedule at TYFS change with the end of the school year, but what we are really doing stays the same throughout the year. That is, helping young people and families find their way to fulfilling and constructive lives by helping them improve their relationships with peers and within the family and with our community.

Teen Power: Fostering Relationships Through Jobs

“Our work is about relationships.”  This message is true and fundamental to TYFS as a whole, and the Teen Power is certainly no exception. Teen Power is an extra-curricular activity open to all Jackson Hole Middle School students. We seek to connect youth looking for work experience with community members who could use an extra hand. But far beyond that, Teen Power is an  opportunity to develop individual character strengths and meaningful relationships.

This past summer an older adult who was having difficulties being active enough to exercise her dog called to inquire about Teen Power’s services. We were able to connect, Jessica, a 7th grade student who lives in the same neighborhood, with Donna and her pup, Bella. Jessica loved the opportunity to make some money, but her parents were more excited about witnessing her place a high value on helping others while demonstrating responsibility. Now that school is in session, Jessica can only help out a few times a week, but in hearing her talk about her first work experience one can easily identify a growing sense of personal power and purpose. Jessica also forged a connection with Donna, who acted as another caring adult in her life.

Not all Teen Power jobs result in long-term relationships, many are one-time home or yard projects or babysitting needs. These still contribute to a student’s sense of self. The weekly after-school component allows for career exploration at the same time as students learn about communication, team-building, gratitude, and other soft skills fundamental to future growth and success.  We believe that by providing a  supportive context in which young  people can feel more connected to something they care about, they will be less likely to engage in maladaptive  future behaviors.  We strive to keep our work centered on developmental relationships by helping young people discover who they are; develop abilities to shape their own lives; and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them. If you are interested in learning more or have an opportunity or a student to work, please contact Ben Brettell at bbrettell@tyfs.org or 733-7946.