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Creative Programming Brings Warmth to Mentor-Scholar Events

Community events are a building block of PEAK mentoring relationships. Whether focused on fun or education, they’re always - above all - about building happy memories. But how do you make a Zoom call as special to a young person as a chance to try rock climbing with their mentor or experience an afternoon at the apple orchard?

In response to the pandemic, PEAK has shifted to virtual events and actually increased our mentor-scholar programming. We make it just as meaningful by focusing on much-needed moments of fun.

With the goal of celebrating our shared resilience while acknowledging isolation, September's virtual campfire outing was described by one mentor as “the best outing yet.”

During the scholar talent-show portion, a brave freshman sang publicly (and beautifully) for the very first time, a PEAK junior’s poem about bravery inspired us all to be our best selves and a young photographer’s presentation was a powerful reminder of the abilities that are waiting to be awakened in our scholars.

Games and marshmallow-filled gift bags gave the event authenticity, while storytellers Emily Hooper Lansana and Anne Shimojima moved us with their renderings of traditional tales of love and sacrifice.

It wasn’t one specific activity that made the morning special; rather, the sense of community it offered during a year when such connections can be hard to find.

The first Saturday of November, mentors and scholars connected again - this time for a virtual escape room. Groups solved puzzles as part of their mission to save the world by discovering the source of a virus trapping everyone in their computers. Out-of-the-box thinking and teamwork allowed mentors and scholars alike to set aside the world’s cares, if only briefly.

It was “a great time to bond with other mentors & scholars in the comfort of our own home,” said one mentor.

“I liked seeing everyone use their critical thinking skills and work together,” another noted. “I saw my scholar take on a more active role than in other events. “

With our outings remote for the foreseeable future, strengthening our PEAK community in new ways during this tumultuous time will remain a PEAK priority.


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