YMCA Camp Menogyn Bold and Gold Program
It is common knowledge that second generation Chinese Americans excel in math and the sciences, and do extremely well in professions such as attorneys, engineers and physicians. However, they are not particularly attracted to ecology or environmental sciences. Therefore CHF, in 2021, began an initiative to offer these young Chinese Americans an opportunity to experience the pristine wilderness in our own state at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), increase their awareness and need of environmental preservation. This program was made possible by a generous grant we had received from the Stanley and Marvel Chong Foundation, designated for the education of Chinese American youths.
We found an enthusiastic partner in YMCA’s Wilderness Camp Menogyn, where they have begun a new program, called Bold and Gold, where they utilize a wilderness canoe trip to foster environmental awareness as well as teaching campers leadership skills and fostering friendship. We approached them to create special trips geared towards our young Chinese Americans and they were very excited about the opportunity. We worked with Angela Wunderlich, Program Director of Equity and Inclusion at the YMCA of the North Camping Team, to create special canoe trips to the BWCA for our youths.
We worked with three Chinese Language Schools in the Twin Cities: YuCai Chinese School, MN Minghua Central School, and MN International Chinese School to recruit students who would be interested, and we received a very strong response. To alleviate the concerns of parents about the still present COVID pandemic that summer, we arranged for a special zoom meeting with Menogyn directors and parents to go through all the stringent requirements and preventive measures Menogyn would do to prevent transmission. The parents were satisfied and therefore willing to send their kids to Menogyn in August, 2021. Alas, the wild fires and smoke from the West Coast created such a huge fire risk that all trips to the BWCA were canceled.
We tried again in 2022 and received an overwhelming response and the August 13-18 trip was a thorough success! We are so heartened by this inaugural success that we have already begun discussions with Came Menogyn to offer this program again in August 2023. We hope to expand to include more Chinese Language Schools and offer interested youths the same opportunity for a rare, uplifting experience in a pristine wilderness right in our own backyard. If you know of any interested Chinese American youths, please contact us at: [email protected]