Grand Canyon Youth is an organization based in Flagstaff, Az whose mission is to “give youth (ages 12–19) an experiential education along the rivers and canyons of the Southwest in an effort to promote environmental awareness, community involvement, personal growth, and teamwork among people with diverse backgrounds.” The program offers youth three different trips including The Grand Canyon, San Juan and Gates of Lodore. Between hiking and whitewater rafting the youth participate in scientific projects that help the delicate ecosystem near the rivers. The program encourages youth to set, work for and achieve their goals. They believe time spent on the river can be life changing for youth as it gives them an opportunity to connect with others and learn more about themselves as individuals. The involvement of the youth begins well before the actual trip as they have to complete community service, an educational project and pay for part of the trip themselves in order to be eligible. The program is open to all youth aged 12-19 from anywhere in the country. This adds to the charm of the trip as the participants get an opportunity to meet other peers with different cultures and backgrounds. The organization aims to keep costs down for the participants and offers scholarships to those who truly can not afford it. In a time where children are bombarded with television, internet and video games, this is a great opportunity to get them outdoors and doing something that can really benefit their future. The organization reports that many of their alumni go on to pursue careers that serve the environment or relate to other lessons learned on their trip. You can help make an impact in a child’s life by donating to the scholarship fund so that a child who can not afford the trip, has the ability to go. If you have a child that falls in this age group, this may be a wonderful opportunity for them to learn some real world skills, meet new people, and have an amazing time. To me it sounds like a vacation of a life time! In this day in age, anything the empowers youth is beneficial and I can’t think of a more fun way to do it.