Northland's Very Own: Project Venture North

By KBJR News 1

August 13, 2010 Updated Aug 13, 2010 at 7:56 AM CDT

Whether you're rock climbing or camping in the wilderness... you need to know how to take care of yourself.

The concept of using these activities to teach life lessons... sparked the development of the program Project Venture North in the Saint Louis County School District.

"The holistic approach of eating healthy, building positive self-esteem, of understanding ourselves, and the differences in people is something we really work on with all of our activities," says Project Venture North coordinator Brian Ensign.

These activities take place both inside the classroom and out in the community.

The program provides the students with lessons at school on problem solving, team-building, and drug and alcohol prevention.

Activities are then provided in the community to support those lessons.

"You're seeing them build those positive and respectful communication skills and many other things but you see it on their faces and their actions. You don't have to have them take a test to see it," says Ensign.

What has impacted many of the students the most... is the group's camping trip to Camp Widjiwagon.

"We talked to many parents of students who went on the Widji trip last year and they said that it changed their son or daughter's life in the amount of confidence they came back with," says Michelle Metzig with Project Venture North.

It also provides the students with positive adult role-models.

"Maybe they're getting pressured with certain things that they know are wrong but the peer pressure is so hard... this way we have an avenue to talk about those things," says Ensign.

"It's primarily about building relationships with kids in order to promote positive change," says Metzig.

A change they hope they can pass on to many students for years to come.

Project Venture North has just been awarded a grant from the Forest Service to keep this program running.