Connection and Community during COVID-19

We hope you and those closest to you are safe and healthy as across Oregon and the nation we’ve been asked to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. At Betties360, we’ve adjusted our programming so we can continue to serve our youth during this uncertain time. For the last few weeks, our classes have gathered in online video sessions.

The last time we saw our Betties in person was the week of March 11, when we wished them a happy spring break and built excitement about what was in store for their spring term. Unfortunately, with the stay at home order and school closures in place for the remainder of the academic year, we won’t be able to see them in person again anytime soon. Needless to say, this is disappointing for our Betties and for us, as around this time, we’d typically be hosting urban hikes near their schools and planning to reunite our two schools at our year-end camping trip.

Our 2018-19 class of Betties students' overnight camping trip with the Audubon Society of Portland.

Our mission is to inspire confidence, well-being, and community in girls through action sports, outdoor adventure, and life-skills education. Given these unusual circumstances, we’re leaning into the life-skills and community aspects of our mission.
During weekly video meetings, our program staff have led students through conversations about the fear, stress, and anxiety they are facing, as well as exercises to help manage those difficult feelings. Our Betties are so excited to have this structured time to connect! Many of them haven’t had contact with their friends since being in school, and this was an opportunity for them to reconnect. Several Betties have exchanged phone numbers to keep in contact outside of our class time.

We are meeting with our Betties weekly through Google Meet.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our ability to deliver valuable outdoor experiences to our Betties, we are grateful to be able to hold online space with them during this challenging time. We believe that the positive relationships and conversations we’re building within our program make an important impact on each child’s mental and emotional health, and we’re planning to continue meeting virtually at least through the end of the school year.
We’re also bringing the outdoors in as much as possible. As we continue to spend virtual time together each week, our partners at the Audubon Society of Portland and Columbia Slough Watershed Council who typically lead spring excursions with us – usually hiking and/or paddling trips – plan to join us as guest speakers.
We feel very fortunate that at the beginning of this school year, we had the opportunity to take our Betties to Smith Rock, where they rock climbed outside and camped overnight. This would never have been possible without donor support – thank you for making our first fall camping trip happen in October 2019!

Our Betties hiking down into Smith Rock State Park in October 2019.

Last week, our program staff are preparing care packages filled with healthy snacks, drawing paper, origami, colored pens and pencils, stickers and notes of encouragement to let our Betties know that we’re thinking of them, and give them more tools to care for themselves during their time at home.
Thank you for following along with us, and for all the ways you support this program. We can’t wait until we are able to see you, and our Betties, outdoors again!

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