Middle schoolers at five Bronx schools are getting a unique experience, one they might not have if it wasn't for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York's Career Exploration Program, which reaches out to girls in disadvantaged neighborhoods. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Middle-school girls from five Bronx schools are strapping on life vests and getting in boats, hooking fish and doing things that many of them have never experienced.
It's part of a year-end trip to a camp 90 minutes from the city for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York's Career Exploration Program.
For many of the girls who participated, it was their first time at a camp.
"I didn't really know this was going to be such a weird experience," said Alexa Guerrero, a seventh-grade student. "It was actually really fun, but it was actually really scary."
"It teaches cooperation, and it puts it in a real-time, it gives a real-time experience," said Shenica Odom, director of the career exploration program. "It's not something that they have to theorize. They know immediately that they have to cooperate when they're boating, they have to work together, they have to be patient when they're fishing."
The program is about more than spending a day out of school and at camp. Through CEP, the girls gain the skills they need to succeed beyond middle school.
"The goal of the program is to help girls gain career awareness, to not only help them in academic areas, but to also broaden their horizons so that they would be able to chose a high school and a career path," said Alyssa Negron, administrator for the career exploration program.
Through in-class instruction, guest speakers and visits to different companies, the girls learn about diverse career fields, something they say will pay off.
"Later, in the future, you're going to be informed about what career you want to be and how much you get paid," said Angelina Cruz, a seventh-grade student.
The Girl Scouts say CEP is vital to the South Bronx, where about 92 percent of students the program serves live at or below the poverty line. There, the Girl Scouts and its benefits aren't often accessible.
"In our communities that CEP is stationed in, parents may not have the time or the resources to participate in Girl Scouts in the traditional sense," Odom said.
So instead, CEP brings Girl Scouts to them in the form of a school program that the girls even get credit for.
Organizers of the program say they've already seen an improvement in participants' test scores, attendance and graduation rates, and they plan to expand the program.