Our Yellowstone adventure

A member of the Medical Economics Editorial Advisory Board details how his love of nature and his desire to give back opened the eyes of underprivileged children to the wonders of the National Parks--and opened his eyes to the joys of volunteering.

My wife, Ruth, and I are frequent visitors to Yellowstone National Park, and we are respectful of its power and majesty. Sitting on the porch of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel 5 years ago, we saw people of many nationalities go by but noticed a definite absence of young American children, particularly those of color.

We spoke with Jeff Brown of the Yellowstone Association (YA) to see what we could do to have our local kids participate in what the park was doing for underprivileged children, only to learn that no formal program existed.

Jeff and his associates came up with a wonderful 5-day program, and they were very eager to share their instructors. The program included visits to the Lamar Valley, Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as a Junior Ranger training program. The kids would write journals, take photographs, and paint pictures.

Meanwhile, we were back in Tacoma, Washington, trying to find the kids. Churches? Schools? Repeatedly, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) was suggested, and that`s the organization we contacted, fortunately. Officials there also were eager to participate and said they would choose and train the children.